Dubai Desert Classic 2017

Round 4 - Wire to wire win for Sergio Garcia

February 6, 2017

Sergio Garcia shot a final-round 3-under-par 69 to win the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday after holding the tournament lead since the opening round.

The Spaniard, who had never posted a top-10 finish in his previous seven Desert Classic appearances, finished on a 19-under 269, three strokes ahead of Open champion and top-ranked European Henrik Stenson (69).

Denmark's Lasse Jensen, whose 65 was the low round of the day, finished tied for third with England's Tyrrell Hatton (67).

It was Garcia's first European Tour win since the 2014 Qatar Masters. In the interim, he also won the Byron Nelson Classic on the PGA Tour last year.

With his 12th European Tour victory, Garcia became the sixth wire-to-wire winner of the Desert Classic and the sixth Spaniard to lift the ''Dallah'' trophy.

Garcia is expected to move up to No. 9 from his current 15th place when the rankings are released Monday.

The 37-year-old started the day with a birdie and increased his lead to four shots, a cushion that seemed necessary given how tough the front nine of the golf course was playing due to cross winds. He held his nerve throughout before making a critical par save on the eighth hole after hitting his tee shot into the right desert, and then made another birdie on the tough par-4 ninth to ensure he stayed four ahead of Stenson.

The Swede made his move on the back nine, with three birdies and a bogey on the first five holes, while Garcia kept churning out pars. Heading to the 15th tee, Garcia's lead was down to two shots.

But the Spaniard held firm on the par-3 15th hole. He hit a stunning tee shot to two feet for a birdie, while Stenson hit his over the green and failed to make an up-and-down for a bogey and a two-shot swing.

Stenson then got a closing birdie while Garcia missed his from 12 feet, narrowing the gap to three shots.

''I've been fortunate to have some really good ball-striking tournaments,'' said Garcia, who led the greens in regulation stats for the week and was second in driving accuracy. ''This definitely was one of them. I felt like my iron play was really, really good. Obviously my driver was very good, a couple of shots here and there. But you know, on a course of 72 holes, it's going to happen.

''Nobody can go without missing a shot but this week was definitely a week where I felt very comfortable with my game. I felt like I was in good control of what I wanted to do with my ball flight and stuff. So I guess it showed up.''

Stenson, who won the tournament in 2007, said: ''Obviously, I was chasing all day and I was trying to push, even though I didn't play my best.

''With that birdie on 14, I was hoping I was going to be able to make it a bit interesting coming into the last couple of holes. If you're one or two behind, with 17 and 18, a lot of things can happen . you can eagle and someone else can end up in trouble.

''We picked the wrong wind and I hit the wrong shot at the same time. Airmailed the green on 15 and led to bogey. And Sergio hit a good shot to three feet and then it was pretty much game, set, match.''

After completing its desert swing, the European Tour next moves to Kuala Lumpur for the Maybank Championship.

Round 3 - Sergio Garcia moves three clear

February 5, 2017

Sergio Garcia shot a third-round 68 to finish three shots clear of his Ryder Cup team mate Henrik Stenson in the Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday.

Spaniard Garcia birdied his 33rd and last hole of a long day after the second round was disrupted by high winds to move to 16 under par and in a strong position to win his 12th European tour title.

"At the end it was very, very dark, I'll tell you that," Garcia, 37, told the Tour website.

"I have a chance of winning the Dubai Desert Classic which is a great event. I'm going to give it my all tomorrow."

Swede Stenson made six birdies in a sparkling 67, a round matched by Briton Ian Poulter who moved into a tie for third place with Thai Prom Meesawat, two shots adrift of the British Open champion.

Round 2 - George Coetzee leads as Tiger Woods withdraws

February 4, 2017

South African George Coetzee was leading the Dubai Desert Classic by one shot when the second round was suspended due to high winds on Friday.

Coetzee picked up three strokes in his first eight holes to move to nine under par, one ahead of overnight leader Sergio Garcia.

The windy conditions added to a difficult day for tournament organizers following the withdrawal of former world number one Tiger Woods because of a back injury.

"We've had a fairly challenging day today with the wind," tournament director Mike Stewart told the European PGA Tour website.

"Winds increased during the course of lunchtime into the early afternoon to the point where we had gusts approaching 36 miles an hour and beyond."

American Woods, a 14-times major champion, pulled out of the tournament before the second round after carding a five-over-par 77 on Thursday.

German Martin Kaymer and Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello were the clubhouse leaders on four under par after matching rounds of 69.

Play was scheduled to resume at 0730 local time (0330 GMT) on Saturday.

Round 1 - Sergio Garcia leads, Tiger Woods struggles

February 3, 2017

Sergio Garcia took advantage of better playing conditions in the morning and carded a 7-under-par 65 for a one-shot lead to open the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday.

Playing ahead of Tiger Woods, who could not make any headway and posted a 5-over 77, Garcia made six birdies and an eagle before finally dropping a shot on the eighth hole, his 17th.

Chile's Felipe Aguilar and South Africa's George Coetzee were tied on 66, and the resurgent Ian Poulter led a group of four players with 67.

Henrik Stenson, the highest-ranked player in the field at 4, posted a bogey-free 68.

Danny Willett started his title defense with a 71.

Six players didn't finish because of poor light. None were threating the leaders.

Woods missed fairways and greens, and he needed 33 putts in his second comeback event.

''I left probably about 16 putts short. I just couldn't get the speed of these things,'' he said.

Only seven players were below Woods in the field of 132. The two-time winner was 12 shots behind Garcia.

Garcia, yet to achieve a top-10 finish in seven previous Dubai appearances, appreciated his morning tee time and the lack of wind.

''The last probably six holes or so, (the wind) started picking up it, and (the course) was playing a little bit tougher,'' he said. ''But I hit the ball nicely. I got away with a couple of loose shots.''

Of the afternoon groups, the best finisher was New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox with a 4-under 68.

Two-time champion Stephen Gallacher of Scotland closed with a 72 in the afternoon, and said it was some of the toughest conditions he has faced on the Majlis course.

''It was tough to putt, really,'' Gallacher said. ''The wind was moving the putts on the greens, so you would aim for it one time and do it the next and it would move. It was just really tough to get the ball close, as well. Anything under par is a great score this afternoon.

''I'd say that's one of the toughest rounds I've played. I hit irons into holes I've never hit anywhere near before. It's always a tough wind here, right across.''

Gallacher is the only back-to-back champion of the Dubai Desert Classic, in 2013 and '14.

Scores