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Sunday, 12 February 2012
Rafael Cabrera-Bello  (Getty Images)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Getty Images)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello produced a nerveless final round performance to claim the biggest win of his career at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

One behind Lee Westwood overnight, the 27 year old Spaniard - whose only previous European Tour victory came at the 2009 Austrian Golf Open - carded a bogey free 68 to reach 18 under and triumph by a solitary stroke.

Three of Cabrera-Bello’s birdies, including a crucial three on the 17th, came on the back nine as his rivals struggled to make headway in breezy conditions.

Westwood, who had led by two strokes this morning following a superb eagle at the second but struggled to find his best form on the greens, and Stephen Gallacher shared second place after respective rounds of 70 and 69. Both men missed putts to force a play-off on the 18th.

Westwood has now finished as runner-up in this event on three occasions, yet he does have the small consolation of taking the World Number Two spot back off Rory McIlroy - by 0.004 ranking points.

Cabrera-Bello, the first round leader courtesy of a scintillating 63, becomes the third Spaniard in succession to have triumphed in Dubai, following Miguel Angel Jiménez in 2010 and Alvaro Quiros in 2011.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling and it’s been a really spectacular week for me,” said Cabrera-Bello, remembering that he began it with nine birdies in 11 holes.

“With so many big, big names I felt really proud of myself. I wanted to fight, I stayed calm, I did everything that I’ve read we should do in these type of situations.

"I really, really feel happy and proud that my name is going to be written down on the same trophy as (Seve) Ballesteros and (José María) Olazábal and Jiménez and my great friend, Alvaro.

“It's a really amazing feeling for me to be a little bit a part of the same history they are.”

Elaborating on the pride he felt, Cabrera-Bello added: “I'm just happy that I was able to win and I was even happier to get a win in a very prestigious event.

“Not just with Lee, whom I admire a lot, but also with all of the big names that were up there contending, like Rory, like Martin (Kaymer), the other guys that came up, like Stephen, like myself, they are all really, really good players.

"Just the fact that I was able today to be successful just proves to me that I'm working on the right line.  It gives me a lot of confidence that I have proven to myself that I can perform at least one week as good as themselves.  It's just a huge, huge confidence and huge morale boost.”

“This will open a lot of doors and this was really the quality jump in my game I was looking for, and I had been practising hard for it.”

Gallacher reflected on his near miss with mixed emotions.

“I would have loved to have made the play-off,” said the Scot. “But fair play to Rafa, he played well, and 18 under is a good score in these conditions.

“I struggled a bit off the tee today but I hit a lot of good iron shots and made a few putts at the right time.  But I had a chance to sort of get into the play-off on the last, so (I’m) just a wee bit disappointed but happy overall.”

McIlroy - the 2009 champion - dropped out of contention early on, but picked up four shots on the way home to claim a share of fifth on 14 under, one behind Germany’s Marcel Siem.

Alongside McIlroy were Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen, whose 67 featured six birdies, Scotland's Scott Jamieson and South Africa’s George Coetzee.

Kaymer, who began the day two adrift of Westwood on 13 under, may have realised it wasn’t going to be his day when he missed presentable birdie chances on each of the first three holes. Although he did pick up a shot on the short fourth, he went on to sign for a 74 that left him in a tie for 13th.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-18
T2WESTWOOD, LeeENG18-17
T2GALLACHER, StephenSCO18-17
4SIEM, MarcelGER18-15
T5KJELDSEN, SørenDEN18-14
T5COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-14
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