Golf Asia


In Control Pieters Glides To Victory


Belgium’s Thomas Pieters enjoyed a “fun” final round at the Abu Dhabi Championsh­ip on Sunday to seal his second title in three starts.

As India’s Shubhankar Sharma rued a missed putt and Rory Mcilroy’s challenge petered out tamely, Pieters made one birdie and one bogey in an even-par round of 72 to finish on 10-under-par 278.

“When you’re in control of your ball flight and the golf ball, it’s fun. You know, you can be creative and that’s how I felt out there today,” said Pieters.

Sharma (71) and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello (70) tied for second, one shot behind. Further back in a tie for 12th after creeping into the top five at one point came Mcilroy, who signed for a round of 69 after three bogeys in his last five holes.

On a day when the Yas Links Golf course was playing tricky because of drying greens and various tucked-up pins, other players kept falling by the wayside as Pieters hit every green in regulation on the front nine, missing just one fairway on the opening hole.

When he made the turn at one-under par courtesy of a birdie on the par-3 eighth hole, he had already lost his nearest challenger­s. A bogey on the second easiest hole on the golf course, the par-5 11th, brought the field close once again, and the lead was down to one shot going down the tough closing stretch.

However, Cabrera Bello made a bogey on the 15th and 16th hole and Sharma on the 17th. That gave Pieters a two-shot cushion on the 18th tee, and he took full advantage of that by laying up with his second and making an easy par.

“It’s fantastic. I was well in control of my ball all day. The putting maybe wasn’t there, but I felt really confident early on,” said Pieters on his second win in such a short time, adding, “I feel like I’ve turned the corner and playing really good golf. My putting has improved

massively and I felt like that’s the thing that really kept me going on the weekend.”

Sharma came close to becoming the first Indian winner of a Rolex Series event but was undone by a missed par putt on the 17th hole.

“I putted really well throughout the tournament and it was a shame I missed the one on the 17th. But to finish with a birdie on the last was a good feeling,” said Sharma.

Pieters’ reward for his sixth win on the newly-named DP World Tour is expected to earn him a rise from 69th in the world rankings to 31st.

The DP World Tour next moves down the road to Dubai for the Dubai Desert Classic, another Rolex Series event.

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