Golf: Sergio sizzles in the heat of desert

Sergio Garcia of Spain teeing off during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic yesterday. With a 269 total, he became the seventh Spaniard to win the oldest professional golf tournament in the Middle East.
Sergio Garcia of Spain teeing off during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic yesterday. With a 269 total, he became the seventh Spaniard to win the oldest professional golf tournament in the Middle East.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Garcia beats Stenson by 3 shots to win Dubai Desert Classic, claim his 1st wire-to-wire win

DUBAI • Sergio Garcia led from start to finish to win the US$2.5 million (S$3.52 million) Dubai Desert Classic yesterday by three shots from British Open champion Henrik Stenson.

Garcia, who became the seventh Spaniard to win the oldest professional golf tournament in the Middle East, played a bogey-free round of three-under 69 to finish on 19-under 269.

"Hopefully it will be the beginning of a great year," said the 37-year-old, who began the week outlining his determination to win his first Major championship this season.

Garcia entered the final round with a three-shot lead over Stenson and immediately heaped the pressure on his Ryder Cup team-mate with a six-foot putt for birdie at the par-four first hole.

He also picked up shots at the par-four ninth and par-three 15th.

BACK AMONG THE BEST

I stayed aggressive and positive. To be back inside the world's top 10 is great.

SERGIO GARCIA, Dubai Desert Classic winner, who will move into the top 10 today.

Swede Stenson (69), ranked fourth in the world, responded with back-to-back birdies at the par-five 13th and par-four 14th but lost momentum with a bogey at the 15th.

Garcia then eased to his 12th European Tour title on his 250th European Tour appearance. It was his first win on this circuit since the 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and his maiden wire-to-wire victory.

The world No. 15 is expected to vault into the top 10 when the new rankings are published today.

"It was tough," Garcia was quoted as saying by the BBC. "Even without playing his best, (Stenson) is still always there. I am very happy with the way I played and the way I handled key moments.

"I stayed aggressive and positive. To be back inside the world's top 10 is great."

Stenson, 40, finished second on 272.

"I needed to come up with some really solid play and even though I didn't quite play my best, I still managed to sneak a couple of birdies in there in the middle of the back nine and move closer," he told the European Tour after mixing five birdies with two bogeys.

"You've got to push when you're behind and we got the wind slightly wrong there on No. 15. I over-hit it a little bit at the same time. That's obviously where it all kind of finished.

"At the same time, Sergio hit a lovely shot to about 21/2 feet and it was pretty much game, set and match on the 15th green."

Denmark's Lasse Jensen shot the lowest round of the final day, a seven-under 65, to climb to joint third place with England's Tyrrell Hatton (67) on 274.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'Sergio sizzles in the heat of desert'. Print Edition | Subscribe