Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry found themselves playing second-fiddle to Frenchman Victor Perez, who muscled his way to victory despite a near disaster down the last at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Perez picked-up a seventh pro victory and a third DP World Tour title, winning by a shot in posting a closing 66 and an 18-under par triumph.
Perez, a member of last week’s winning European Hero Cup side, burst from the blocks on the final day of the record-setting $UDS 9m Rolex Series event, with two opening bogeys and then two more, at the sixth and seventh holes.
The Edinburgh-based Frenchman, who practices at the Renaissance Club venue later this year for the Genesis Scottish Open, then moved into a two shot lead at 18-under with back to back birdies for a third time in his round, before a bogey on 14 but then managing a birdie at 15.
Perez then holed one of the shots of the career holing a 22-yard bunker shot for birdie after a poor tee shot from the par-3 17th. It gave the 30-year-old a two-shot lead heading to the final hole.
“I was thinking in holing that shot on 17 that it must be in contention for ‘shot of the year’, so I’m very happy to win,” he said.
However, his final tee shot found a fairway bunker with his ball coming to rest in what could have been a poorly raked lie and his second shot soaring high and landing on the downside of the water hazard running all the way down the final hole.
In the end, Perez found the fairway with his third, put his fourth on the green and two-putted to win by a shot at 18-under with a bogey ‘6’.
Harrington was in the scorer’s hut watching the events unfold, no doubt to be sure he would not be involved in a play-off, and after signing for a 67 and fourth place at 17-under.
The result is Harrington’s best DP World Tour finish since he finished runner-up in the 2018 Czech Masters.
“I did some good stuff today while I would also like to have a few shots back including bogeying the par-5 seventh but then it was nice to birdie the second after the bogey on one from a tough lie in a bunker, and also birdie five and eight,” he said.
“Then not to birdie the two par-5s over the inward nine didn’t help whereas everything else is something I can build-on going forward.
“I’m heading to Dubai feeling I am well ahead of where I thought I would be after this first event of the New Year. I would have given myself two weeks to get myself showing a bit of form.
“So, it’s great I was genuinely in contention and a good thing is that I felt nice and relaxed”.
In contrast, Lowry looked gutted with his chance to win and be handed the falcon trophy for a second time in four years ending in a horror four-hole stretch from the 14th to 17th holes posting scores of bogey, bogey, double-bogey and a 17th hole bogey.
Lowry, like Harrington had been just one off the lead after back-to-back birdies at 12th and 13th holes but came home in a golfing ambulance signing for a 73 and dropping in a tie for 28th at nine-under.
Like Harrington, Lowry is also contesting this coming week’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic.