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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Sharvin secures big payday but DJ is top dog in Saudi

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Cormac Sharvin made the most of his invite to the Saudi International, banking his biggest cheque since a career-best result at the 2019 Irish Open at Lahinch.

The Ardglass professional improved as the week went on in the desert, getting to grips with the Royal Greens course on his seasonal reappearance before signing off with a two-under par round of 68. Three birdies on Sunday saw Sharvin rise to seven-under par, finishing the event in a tie for 21st spot and taking home a cheque worth €31,700 for the effort.

“It’s a solid start to 2021,” said Sharvin. “It was a bit of a weird week. I caught a bit of a stomach bug on Wednesday and didn’t even know if I was going to play on Thursday. I was really struggling and pretty close to pulling out during the round but managed to grind out a level par in tough conditions. Felt a bit better on Friday, still not great but felt a good bit better on the weekend.”

“To birdie three of the last four on Friday to make the cut was great and just to get four rounds of golf in after the way I was feeling too was a bonus. I went to Dubai a week before, bought a GC Quad launch monitor so was able to get a lot of work done with distances which helped me a lot and it was probably the best prepared I felt for a tournament in a while.”

The 28-year old led home the Irish challenge with Shane Lowry coming unstuck on Sunday, dropping six places down the board to a share of 29th at six-under par after managing just one birdie in a one-over round of 71. It’s another solid result for Lowry to add to his tied-27th result the week before in Dubai but he’ll be hoping for much more to force his way into the reckoning for a place on Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup team. While in the defence of his Saudi title, Graeme McDowell carded a final round 68 for a one-over tally and a share of 66th place.

Dustin Johnson won the event for the second time, confirming his status as the game’s best player with a resounding two shot victory over Justin Rose and Tony Finau at 15-under par. The World Number One started the day with a two-stroke advantage and he was pushed all the way by playing partner Victor Perez and compatriot Finau, who briefly pulled level with Johnson on the back nine.
The reigning Masters Champion closed out victory by responding to his only dropped shot of the day at the 16th with a birdie at the 17th to finish with a closing two under par round of 68 for a winning 15 under total.
“It was a really good week,” said DJ. “I felt like I played really solid every day. Gave myself a lot of chances. Didn’t putt quite as well as I’d like to, but obviously well enough to get a victory today. But conditions were tough, especially a couple of the days, but I felt like I struck it very well. I drove it really good. So I gave myself a ton of chances. But yeah, just obviously I’m very pleased with the win and very excited but I’m going to have to go home and work on the putting a bit I think.
“It’s tough to win on the European Tour, PGA TOUR, no matter what ranking you are. But yeah, obviously winning as Number One is definitely good, and obviously it gives me a little bit more of a lead. It gives me a lot of confidence going in for the rest of the year. Obviously we’re at the beginning of the year, so pleased with how I’m playing and looking forward to the rest of the year.
“I don’t get to play around the world as much as I’d like to, but yeah, it’s definitely nice to get a win [not on the PGA TOUR]. After Augusta, to get my first win again, obviously the game’s still in really good form and I’m really excited about the rest of the year.”

Finau marked his debut in Saudi Arabia with a tie for second place on 13 under par with England’s Rose, whose joint runner-up result is his best European Tour finish since he won the 2018 Turkish Airlines Open. A shot further back in a tie for fourth place on 12-under par was Scotland’s Calum Hill, who secured his best European Tour result to date, and France’s Perez, whose challenge was effectively ended by a double bogey five on the 16th as he signed for a 69.

The triumph is Johnson’s first victory since winning his first Green Jacket at the Masters Tournament in November and continues his excellent record in Saudi Arabia after winning the maiden edition of the event in 2019 before finishing second to Graeme McDowell in 2020.

 

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