Thomas Pieters wins in Abu Dhabi as Shane Lowry’s challenge fades

Offaly man can only manage a final round of 77 as Belgian edges out Cabrera-Bello by one

Thomas Pieters celebrates his win in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty

Thomas Pieters celebrates his win in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty

 

All around Thomas Pieters, strange things were happening: Shane Lowry hit a speed bump on the very first hole, manufacturing a triple bogey from the middle of the fairway to suffer terminal damage in his quest for the Abu Dhabi HSBC championship title; while Rory McIlroy’s final round charge ultimately came undone, a duck-hooked 3-wood approach shot into the water on the last which brought with it the sound of wry laughter.

Even Viktor Hovland - with a triple and a double-bogey - fell prey to the unexpected.

Pieters, though, remained immune from any such shenanigans as the 29-year-old Belgian stuck coolly and calmly to the task in hand. A final round 72 for a total of 10-under-par 278 gave Pieters a one stroke winning margin over Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello and India’s Shubhankar Sharma and earned him payday of €1.2million.

For the Irish players, there was only disappointment. And especially so for Lowry, who had entered the final round just a stroke behind 54-hole leader Scott Jamieson, who also fell away.

Lowry’s great expectations, though, were doomed from his second shot of the day. After a fine opening drive that found the middle of the fairway, his approach flew the green - some 30 yards beyond the flag - and the catalogue of errors that followed eventually saw him run up a triple bogey seven that came like a sucker-punch before he’d ever got going.

Indeed, Lowry’s travails over the outward journey were reflected in him turning in 40 strokes, adding a double-bogey seven on the Par 5 seventh hole after a wayward drive started a hole which finished with a three-putt.

In contrast, McIlroy - who would finished tied-12th alongside Lowry, each of them banking €102,554 - looked set to make one of those final round charges so typical of him.

Shane Lowry’s challenge faded on the final day in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Ryan Lim/Getty/AFP
Shane Lowry’s challenge faded on the final day in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Ryan Lim/Getty/AFP

McIlroy’s run kick-started on the ninth where he holed out with his approach shot for an eagle two and he then leapfrogged his way into contention with birdies on the 10th, 12th and 13th before the bubble burst with bogeys on the 14th, 17th and 18th where he pulled his 3-wood approach into the water.

Having survived the cut on the mark with a birdie on the 18th hole of his second round, McIlroy remarked: “Honestly, I’m just happy enough I got to play an extra two days. I played really well today through 13 holes and then hit a couple of loose shots coming in that cost me. But it was good to see where my game’s at going into Dubai. Obviously it wasn’t the finish I wanted but big picture-wise it was good to get another couple of days, to get a card in the hand and assess where everything is and what to work on.”

Pádraig Harrington battled through 17 holes of his round with little drama, a lone bogey at the third outdone by a hat-trick of birdies from the ninth to the 11th that had the Dubliner for a top-10 finish only to also suffer the wrath of the last where a double-bogey resulted in him signing for a 72 which dropped him back to tied-20th on 284.

Pieters’ sixth career win on tour came with a stubbornly focused final round - one birdie, one bogey - of 72 that kept any disasters off his card whist also acknowledging his improved putting which has seen a resurgence and is set to move him inside the world’s top-35.

“The putting was kind of the missing link to my game for the past few years. And maybe just maturing a bit and taking the right decisions at the right times. I think I kind of showed that by playing some boring golf coming in, but you have to be disciplined to make that decision,” said Pieters.

Collated final round scores & totals in the DP World Tour Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Yas Links, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Britain & Irl unless stated, Par 72):

278 Thomas Pieters (Bel) 65 74 67 72

279 Rafael Cabrera (Spa) 69 71 69 70, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 70 71 67 71

280 Viktor Hovland (Nor) 64 74 70 72, Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 70 72 69 69

281 Tyrrell Hatton 66 77 71 67, Ian Poulter 66 72 71 72, Jeff Winther (Den) 71 69 71 70, James Morrison 66 71 72 72,

282 Adam Scott (Aus) 70 72 68 72, Scott Jamieson 63 74 68 77

283 Rory McIlroy 72 75 67 69, Shane Lowry 67 72 67 77, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 69 77 67 70, Erik van Rooyen (Rsa) 69 71 73 70, Ashun Wu (Chn) 69 77 70 67, Sam Horsfield 74 70 68 71, Jordan Smith 71 72 71 69, Romain Langasque (Fra) 72 73 67 71

284 Lee Westwood 71 74 70 69, Rasmus Hoejgaard (Den) 70 72 73 69, Padraig Harrington 73 71 68 72, Alexander Bjoerk (Swe) 68 71 72 73, Adria Arnaus (Spa) 71 76 72 65

285 Takumi Kanaya (Jpn) 66 73 75 71, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 71 75 70 69, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 70 71 72 72, Andrea Pavan (Ita) 69 72 69 75, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 69 77 68 71, Justin Harding (Rsa) 69 72 70 74, Richie Ramsay 71 76 68 70, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 73 72 69 71, Callum Shinkwin 71 75 72 67, Julien Brun (Fra) 69 69 77 70

286 Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 71 76 72 67, Daniel Gavins 69 74 70 73, Dale Whitnell 68 74 72 72, Robert Rock 68 75 68 75

287 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 72 75 75 65, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 67 76 68 76, Ewen Ferguson 71 74 73 69, 288 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den) 71 74 74 69, Ignacio Elvira (Spa) 69 74 75 70, Matthew Southgate 70 73 71 74, Jack Singh-Brar 70 76 72 70, Soeren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 74 70 74, Marcus Helligkilde (Den) 69 75 72 72

289 Tommy Fleetwood 68 76 74 71, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 74 72 71 72, Kristoffer Broberg (Swe) 69 74 69 77, Jamie Donaldson 74 69 70 76, Justin Walters (Rsa) 74 71 71 73

290 Thomas Detry (Bel) 67 76 72 75, David Horsey 70 75 73 72, Connor Syme 70 77 74 69, Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 73 72 70 75, Daan Huizing (Ned) 71 76 72 71

291 Victor Perez (Fra) 66 74 73 78, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 70 72 73 76, Josh Hill 71 76 69 75,

292 Ryan Fox (Nzl) 72 74 70 76

293 Collin Morikawa (USA) 73 74 71 75, Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 70 77 69 77, Matthew Jordan 70 74 74 75

294 Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 71 76 75 72, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger) 75 72 74 73, David Law 69 75 72 78

295 Daniel van Tonder (Rsa) 71 75 72 77, Matt Wallace 72 75 72 76, Santiago Tarrio (Spa) 70 75 75 75

296 Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 71 76 70 79

297 Brandon Stone (Rsa) 74 72 74 77, Sami Valimaki (Fin) 69 75 76 77, Chris Paisley 73 74 77 73

299 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 68 78 74 79

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