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Thursday, 03 October 2013
Abu Dhabi HSBC Champion Jamie Donaldson   (Getty Images)
Abu Dhabi HSBC Champion Jamie Donaldson (Getty Images)
Jamie Donaldson collected his second European Tour title in dramatic fashion at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The Welshman went two clear with five birdies in his first 17 holes, but three-putted the par five last and bogeyed.

That left overnight leader Justin Rose and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen in the final group needing a birdie at the 18th to force a play-off, but Olesen’s 15 foot effort slid by before World Number Five Rose lipped out from 12 feet.

“It’s pretty surreal really, I’ve played really good all week although I’ve got away with murder up the last,” said Donaldson.

“I thought one of them would hole if not both, but when both putts slipped by it was my week.

“I’m very happy to be stood here holding the trophy.”

Donaldson’s victory at the Irish Open last year was his first in 255 European Tour events, but it has taken him only 13 starts to double his trophy haul.

“It’s like buses isn’t it?” he joked.

Donaldson recently sent Robert Rock a picture of his Masters Tournament invitation to wind him up, and has now succeeded him as champion at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Against a field that had earlier in the week included world top two Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods - both missed the halfway cut - he could hardly believe what had just happened.

"I played the pro-am on Wednesday and thought the course was too difficult and I had no chance," Donaldson said. "I thought if I could get a decent finish I would be chuffed.

"To be holding this trophy is just mad."

Rose, whose last trip to the Middle East in November saw him denied by McIlroy in Dubai, shared second place with Olesen.

The biggest sympathy vote, though, went to Rose's fellow Englishman David Howell.

Now 258th in the Official World Golf Ranking - he was 569th less than three years ago - the former World Number Nine charged into the lead with five birdies in the first ten holes.

But the former Ryder Cup star bogeyed the short 12th, then on the next splashed out of sand to four feet and, incredibly, four-putted from there for a triple bogey seven.

Howell had to be content with a tie for sixth place when a first victory for seven years would have taken him comfortably back into the game's top 100.

Donaldson, who earned his place at Augusta National by climbing into the top 50 by the end of last year, will be around 30th when the new ranking is published tomorrow.

The six was Donaldson's only dropped shot of the day. He had resumed two behind Rose, but birdied the first, ninth and 11th and then, following Howell's horror show, sank putts of 18 and 15 feet on the 14th and 15th to go two ahead.

His 68 gave him a 14 under par total of 274, one better than his close friend Rock managed a year ago when he beat McIlroy by one and Woods by two.

As for that Masters invite photo being sent to Rock, Donaldson said: "It's just banter. He was ill in the week and said 'Get my trophy back'."

Holding it up he added: "Here you are Rocky!"

Rose had led from his opening 67, but managed only a closing 71. There were three back-nine birdies in that, but also bogeys at the 11th and 17th after he missed both greens.

Rose, whose runners-up finish was still good enough to take him back to fourth in the world, said: "It was definitely hard work today.

"For some reason it was hard to see the breaks on the front nine, but I pulled it together really well and felt I got into a really good competitive mode.

"When I birdied 14 I didn't realise Jamie had had a hot round. I had actually expected to be one ahead at that point and I was one behind, so every credit to Jamie.

"I didn't do a lot wrong. It's hard to beat yourself up about it.

"I felt like I brought my best stuff on the back nine rather than the front nine, so that's encouraging.

"I don't think I need to do anything different - just need to keep chipping away and keep swinging well.

"But was a long, hard week to end up finishing second."

As for his closing putt his mind went back to the Ryder Cup last September.

"It reminded me exactly of the putt at 18 against Phil (Mickelson), just outside right edge. That's exactly where I hit it and unfortunately this time the putt didn't go in for me.

"Would I swap it? No, I wouldn't!"

Nor would he deny Donaldson his triumph. He had "four years in the wilderness" after being told his injury trouble was a spinal condition called Pars Disease.

One doctor told him his career could be over, but he went for another opinion and instead of it being a nightmare the story since has been the stuff of dreams.

The 22 year old Olesen had held a share of the lead after birdies at the fourth and fifth, but a double bogey six at the next ultimately left him with too much to do.

“I was trying to go for the green but I knew the lie was bad and I tried anyway,” he said. 

“Maybe I should have just laid up, but you can always say that after. I tried to make birdies today, and I didn't make that many unfortunately.”


 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LARRAZÁBAL, PabloESP18-14
T2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-13
T2MICKELSON, PhilUSA18-13
T4COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-12
T4CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-12
6LUITEN, JoostNED18-10
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