Monday, 13 February 2012
Rafael Cabrera-Bello  (Getty Images)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Getty Images)

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  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello

Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts have both qualified for next week’s WGC – Accenture Match Play thanks to their performances in Dubai.

Cabrera-Bello will make his WGC debut after his victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic took him from 119th to 60th in the world while Colsaerts will be competing in his first WGC event on US soil after his joint ninth place finish lifted him from 69th to 64th.

Their inclusion in the field takes the number of European Tour Members qualified to 31 with Robert Rock and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano joining Cabrera-Bello and Colsaerts as debutants in the event.

With Phil Mickelson, who claimed his 40th US PGA Tour title with victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday, confirming his absence from the event, the cut off drops to 65, with Ernie Els holding on to his place despite taking a week off last week.

George Coetzee is currently the first reserve after his joint fifth place finish in Dubai elevated him 11 places from 77th.

"This was the quality jump I was looking for in my game and it's offered me the opportunity to play with the world's best players," said the 27-year-old Cabrera-Bello, whose only previous European Tour win came in the Austrian Open three years ago.

He achieved that with a Tour record-equalling closing round of 60. At The Emirates a bogey-free 68 gave him the title as Westwood failed to hang onto the lead he held for most of the final day.

Second place in the event for the third time in his career was still good enough, though, to take Westwood back to second in the world rankings - by 0.004 points from Rory McIlroy, who came joint fifth.

The two stars had much to ponder at the end of the circuit's three-week Middle East swing.

McIlroy lost by one to England's Robert Rock in Abu Dhabi after a two-shot penalty in the second round for brushing sand away that was not on the green.

He then led at halfway last week, but fell back.

"I'm a little disappointed considering the position I was in going into the weekend, but I can't be that disappointed," said Northern Ireland's US Open champion.

At least he finished with four birdies in his last nine holes and he added: "I'm pleased with how I hit the ball and that's very positive to take into the next few weeks."

Westwood missed a succession of chances yesterday, but while that should annoy him he also knows the big tournaments this season are all still to come.

Both will be in action next at the WGC - Accenture Match Play, where World Number One Luke Donald will be defending his title at Dove Mountain.

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