Danny Willett set his sights on a place in the Olympic Games and Ryder Cup after holding his nerve to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and take a step towards a place in the world’s top 10.
The Englishman, who holed from 15ft for a birdie on the 18th for a final round of 69, finished on 19 under par, one shot ahead of his compatriot Andy Sullivan and Spanish playing partner Rafael Cabrera-Bello at the Emirates Golf Club.
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Sullivan had also birdied the last in the group ahead to temporarily join Willett at the top of the leaderboard, before Cabrera-Bello narrowly missed a long eagle attempt on 18 and tapped in for birdie to also finish 18 under.
Álvaro Quirós, of Spain, and Byeong Hun An, of South Korea, shared fourth place on 16 under, with defending champion Rory McIlroy another shot back alongside Henrik Stenson, after closing with a 65.
“I’m just ecstatic,” said Willett. “You can’t buy that feeling. It’s nice to know that I can dig deep and produce when it is needed the most.”
Rory McIlroy was left to rue some poor passages of play
Willett’s fourth European Tour title moves him to a provisional career high of 12th in the world rankings, as well as elevating the 28-year-old to third in the Ryder Cup standings and cementing his place alongside Justin Rose in qualifying for the British Olympic team.
“They are two massive goals of mine,” said Willett. “Hopefully come August I’ll be in Rio and come September I’ll be in Hazeltine.”
After losing his overnight lead following a bogey on the second, Willett twice surged three shots clear, before a three-putt on the 14th, coupled with Sullivan’s birdie on the 15th, set up a tense finish.
Sullivan then saved par on the 16th after a wild drive in the trees and birdied the last to share the lead, but Willett left himself a slightly longer putt on almost exactly the same line as his former Walker Cup team-mate and calmly holed to take the title.
McIlroy was left to rue some poor passages of play, the world No2 having said at the start of the week he would be disappointed with anything less than a win. “It’s a week of what could have been,” McIlroy said. “There was a lot of really good golf in there. I played a lot of great shots and made a lot of birdies, but just made a few too many mistakes as well.”
Source: The Telegraph