The first Rolex Series event of the year did not disappoint.
On Sunday, Shane Lowry and Richard Sterne teed it up in the final group of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA and the two men went toe-to-toe, exchanging birdies all day in one of the great final day battles of recent memory.
While Lowry would end the day with the trophy, the tournament looked to be firmly in Sterne’s grasp on the back nine. Neither man gave up and both combined for ten birdies.
Here’s a timeline of today’s memorable final round.
12.50pm: Lowry ahead by three
When both players arrived on the first tee, it was the Irishman who led after opening rounds of 62, 70 and 67. They teed off together shortly before 1pm local time.
1.03pm: Lowry ahead by three
Despite an incredible up-and-down from a fairway bunker, Lowry was unable to extend his lead as Sterne matched his opening three with a birdie of his own from ten feet.
1.19pm: Lowry ahead by two
An errant tee shot on the par five second cost Lowry a shot at going for the green in two. Meanwhile, steady Sterne found the centre of the fairway and impressive up-and-down from a greenside bunker saw him close the gap to two.
Sterne’s strong start continued with another regulation birdie on the third hole and when Lowry failed to save par from beyond the green, he watched his lead vanish.
1.40pm: Lowry by one
An impressive bounce-back from the Irishman. He dominated the par threes all week and knocked his approach on the fourth hole with five feet. Whilst Sterne did well to save par, he trailed once again.
1.54pm: Sterne by one
Forget a tie, a two-shot swing on the fifth hole put the South African in pole position for the first time all week. And in what style too. The 37 year chips in from deep rough to the right of the green.
It was Lowry’s turn to show off around the greens, doing so with a stunning bunker shot from short of the green that lipped out. Sterne, watching from on the green, then three-putted to lose his advantage.
2.32pm: Sterne by one
After pars on the seventh hole, it’s more match-play gold from the final group on the par five eighth. Lowry with a tricky approach into ten feet, following by Sterne who matches his playing partner, spinning his wedge shot from the fairway to six feet. He holes, Lowry misses, Sterne ahead by one.
2.49pm: Sterne by three
A huge hole. Lowry hooks his tee shot badly into the water and scrambles well to make a bogey. Sterne continues his fine play with a fairway, a green and a perfect left-to-right, 20 footer to triple his lead. Five birdies for Sterne in a front nine 31.
3.25pm: Sterne by four
Lowry’s scrappy tee-to-green game resurfaces on the difficult 11th hole. He misses the fairway, misses the green and misses a 12 foot putt for par. Sterne holes out well for four and adds to his commanding lead.
3.36pm: Sterne by three
Another par three. Another two for Lowry. A huge moment for the Irishman as he trickles in his downhill putt and cuts the lead to three.
3.47pm: Sterne by two
Lowry’s putter is beginning to heat up once again. A birdie two is followed up by a 32 foot bomb on the 13th hole and fist-pumps his way back with two shots of the lead he held at the start of the day.
4.01pm: Sterne by one
Mis-read or a nerves? Either way a three-putt bogey from the South African on the 14th hole means the lead is down to just a single shot with four holes to play.
Another putt slides by for Sterne as he can’t save par from the front bunker and loses his lead. A solid two-putt from Lowry has him walking to the 17th tee with the honour, the momentum and a share of the lead.
5.10pm: Lowry wins by one
What a finish. Both players find the fairway but it’s Lowry who steps up with his second. A three wood from 281 yards to the heart of the green. After a loose second from Sterne, he can’t challenge for birdie and it leaves Lowry with two foot putt for the win.
And there it is, Shane Lowry’s fourth European Tour win. It marks the 11th time in 15 years that the tournament has been decided by a single shot. A memorable final round indeed.