x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Martin shoots up rankings after Dunhill defence

Pablo Martin’s successful defence of the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa has seen him leap more than 100 places on the world rankings.

Pablo Martin hits out of the 13th greenside bunker.
Pablo Martin hits out of the 13th greenside bunker.

Pablo Martin’s successful defence of the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa has seen him leap more than 100 places on the world rankings.

Martin, perhaps still best known for being the first amateur to win a European Tour title three years ago, improves from 286th to 182nd.

Martin survived a triple bogey to defend his title on Sunday, shooting a two-under 70 for a two-shot victory.

The Spaniard had a seven at the par-four 17th but recovered to birdie the last for an 11-under 277 at Leopard Creek Country Club. He was two clear of Thorbjorn Olesen (66), Charl Schwartzel (70) and Anthony Michael (73), who took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the European Tour event.

"I played really well for nine holes, then I got myself into trouble," Martin said. "It was a good start and it gave me a little bit of a cushion, and I needed it."

He had surged ahead with an eagle-birdie start, and opened a five-shot lead through 11 holes following birdies on Nos 7 and 9. With a three-shot lead on the tee at No 17, the triple bogey then cut his advantage over playing partner Michael to one stroke with one hole to play.

But Martin recovered to put his second shot on the par-five 18 on the middle of the green, and Michael found the water to end his chances.

Martin finished with a birdie four for successive victories at the European Tour's season-opening tournament. He is the first winner on the 2010-11 Race to Dubai and the first player to retain a European Tour title since Padraig Harrington won a second straight British Open in 2008.

South Africa's Thomas Aiken (70) was alone in fifth on seven-under 281, while England's Robert Dinwiddie (70) and another South African, Alex Haindl (73), shared sixth at 282.