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Tuesday, 01 January 2013
Victor Dubuisson  (Getty Images)
Victor Dubuisson (Getty Images)

Victor Dubuisson kept his cool in the face of a high-profile chasing pack to earn his first European Tour victory as Henrik Stenson just stayed top the Race To Dubai at the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Despite France’s Dubuisson heading into the final round with a five-shot lead, there were many that believed he would succumb to the pressure of having the likes of Ian Poulter, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson hot on his heels.

He dispelled those beliefs with a masterful performance that belied his tender years, picking up the title and subsequent €848,930 prize on the back of a near-flawless 69.

While the 23 year old's victory represented a worthy story in itself, the Race standings quickly came into focus, too, with The European Tour’s season finale just days away.

It is still Stenson, aiming to take the honours on both sides of the Atlantic following his FedEx Cup triumph, who leads the way following his seventh-placed finish.

He holds around a 214,000-point lead over Rose, with Poulter sitting just behind in fourth having ended this event joint sixth.

While that will take central importance over the coming week, there was little doubt who today belonged to.

“I don't know how to describe it,” said Dubuisson. “Now I don't realise what's happening. I felt so much pressure on the last hole. 

“Holing this putt on 17 was like; it was incredible. It was incredible, and the birdie on 18, it's a bonus.

“But even on the last putt, I was feeling so much stress.  After this day, it was the longest day on the course that I've ever had. I'm very proud of what I did.”

Despite his advantage, Dubuisson continued to show positive intent throughout his round – even if his scoring did not indicate such.

Indeed, nine successive pars on the front nine hardly illustrated the positivity being shown by the Frenchman.

He picked things up immediately after the turn, his decision to take on the par five tenth paying dividends as a first birdie arrived.

With pars continuing to come easily it seemed there would only be one winner, only for a stunning Jamie Donaldson intervention.

The Welshman had appeared on the periphery of the leading pack for much of the day, yet exploded on the way in.

Birdies on ten, 11, 13 and 15 overshadowed a drop at 12 to move him to 19 under, and then came something special on 16.

Taking dead aim at flag on the par three, he pitched to five feet and watched his ball roll on and into the hole.

His 21 under par would soon be good for a tie at the top as, moments later, Dubuisson missed a par putt at 14 for a first dropped shot since the second round.

The Frenchman responded with a fine birdie at the next yet, following a par on 17, Donaldson followed up a fine tee shot at the last with a stunning approach.

However, he failed with a 20 foot eagle putt and, after his birdie set a clubhouse target of 22 under, Dubuisson again found the perfect response, draining a 25 footer on 17 to move ahead.

With only a par needed, the par five 18th was the perfect place to tee up and he responded by producing a birdie that took his score to 24 under.

That was enough to leave him two strokes ahead of Donaldson and four in front of Rose, Poulter and Woods.

For the English duo, this week still represents something of a triumph, for they have boosted their chances of being crowned Champion Of Europe.

US Open Champion Rose did so with a stunning 65, an effort that could have been even better but for a drop at 14 and a particularly disappointing one on the last.

He said: “I think I've gained some ground, yeah, for sure. It's nice to be able to control your own fate next week.

“So if I go in and have a good week, win a golf tournament, which is obviously the aim any time you tee it up; but if I go ahead and do that, that's going to obviously be the exact scenario I'm looking for. Fifth last week, probably tied for third this week, I like the way that's trending towards No. 1.”

Poulter had provided a valiant chase to the eventual victory for much of the day but, having picked up four shots in the opening 11 holes, managed a sole birdie, a bogey and five pars over the last seven.

For Stenson, the final round was another example of his spirit as he continued to battle through a troublesome wrist injury and finally found some momentum on the back nine.

Having struggled mightily in an outward 36, he found the strength to pick up four birdies on the way in and subsequently end just two shots adrift of Rose and one behind Poulter.

“I'm still happy with the Top 10 and thanks to a few of the other guys, yeah, I've still got the lead heading into the last week,” he said.

“My preparation is going to be less than I would have liked (due to his wrist), but again, I've played Jumeirah Golf Estates so many times, so hopefully I shouldn't have to be further behind than he need to due to that.

“So the most important thing is to get healthy long-term, and be able to play next week.”

Woods, meanwhile, began and ended his round in fine style but was ultimately undermined by a rocky period in the middle.

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