Sergio Garcia re-ignited hopes that his career may yet result in success at the very highest levels of the game with a commanding wire-to-wire victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The 37-year-old Spaniard sealed his 12th European Tour win – his first in three seasons – with a three-shot victory over Open champion Henrik Stenson following a bogey-free final round 69 at the Emirates Golf Club.
After closing out the third round in near darkness on Saturday with a birdie apiece on the 18th, the final round was set up for a fascinating battle between Ryder Cup team mates Garcia and Stenson, along with the resurgent Ian Poulter.
While Poulter had a disappointing final day, ending with a four over 76, Stenson managed to cut Garcia’s lead to just one after back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th. But Garcia responded with a brilliant approach to within a couple of feet for an easy birdie on 15, as Stenson dropped a shot to allow Garcia to establish an unassailable three stroke advantage with three holes to play.
Stenson ended the day with his own round of 69 to take second spot on 16 under, two clear of Denmark’s Lasse Jensen and Tyrrell Hatton, while Matt Fitzpatrick and Peter Uihlein finished in tied fifth at 12 under.
“It feels pretty good to be sitting next to this trophy,” said a clearly relieved Garcia. “To come out fast and to stay in front makes it very special. We know Henrik will always come at you, and I’m proud of the way I responded. To be able to hit the shot I hit on 15 was massive to give myself a kick-in birdie, and then obviously he made bogey, and then it was just a matter of staying calm.”
Talking about his hopes of ending his barren run in the Majors, he added: “When I get to Augusta, the US Open, the Open, US PGA Championship, I just want to do the best I can. Just like I try any other week. So that’s not going to change. Some weeks I’m really good, and some weeks are not quite as good. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not trying. Sometimes you’re a little bit tighter. It doesn’t mean that you’re not trying as hard, but it’s just not that easy. Golf is tough. I’m going to keep trying and give myself more chances at majors and see what happens.”