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Casey cruises to dominant victory in Dubai

Casey cruises to dominant victory in Dubai

Paul Casey claimed a milestone 15th European Tour title as a closing 70 handed him a four shot victory at the 2021 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Paul Casey

The Englishman has an excellent record in the United Arab Emirates with victories in Abu Dhabi in 2007 and 2009 and he made it a desert hat-trick as he finished 17 under at Emirates Golf Club, four ahead of South Africa's Brandon Stone, with Scot Robert MacIntyre at 12 under.

Casey entered the day with a one shot lead and while he turned in level par 35, that was enough for a three shot advantage which had been extended to five with five to play.

That gap was trimmed over the closing holes but the 43-year-old never looked in any real danger as he cruised to a triumph that moves him back into the top 20 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

Casey has spoken this week of his desire to make a fifth Ryder Cup appearance in September, and this win sees him match captains Thomas Bjørn and Padraig Harrington for European Tour wins.

The victory also takes him past the tally of three time Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy and makes it 350 wins for English players on the European Tour.

"I'm all emotional with wins, but this one is such a prestigious event," he said. "The history which is behind you, and I can see it from here with amazing winners, is basically a who's who in world golf.

"I'm so over the moon. Not just 15, the fact it's Dubai. It's an iconic event on the European Tour. One of the coolest trophies around.

"I think the whole of 2020 has been very strange, still is very strange, and I'm very, very thankful to be able to do what I do and still be out here playing golf. We had some fans this week, they were amazing. Obviously not a lot because we're still in the middle of a pandemic.

"Myself, just like a lot of other people, it's not been enjoyable. So to have something like this happen, hopefully that can bring happiness to other people, as well."

He added: "I'm still learning. I'm still getting better. I'm still growing up. I always like to learn from the guys I play against and compete with and against. Playing the best in the world, guys like Dustin (Johnson) right now, sort of learning what they do and it's something I've worked on.

I'm so over the moon. Not just 15, the fact it's Dubai. It's an iconic event on the European Tour. One of the coolest trophies around

"I feel kind of fine with where I'm at and it doesn't mean I'm soft. It actually means I'm kind of pushing on and I'm at peace with whatever happens in terms of my golf career from here on.

"So it actually means I've worked incredibly hard the last few months and I've literally gone foot down.

"I'd love to be part of Padraig's team in any capacity. I'd obviously love to be on the golf course first because I think that's where I'm most useful and if I'm not on the golf course, I'd still love to be part of his team and do my bit for Europe.

"Paris was the greatest experience I've had and I think Whistling Straits is going to be a battle. It's always difficult on their turf."

MacIntyre holed from 11 feet on the second to quickly join the lead but Casey made a two putt birdie from 65 feet on the par five next to edge back ahead.

The leader was in a treacherous spot on the next, sat in thick rough with a downhill run off the green towards the water but he holed a stunning chip to move two ahead.

He then missed the green and failed to get up and down on the sixth and eighth but stayed two ahead as MacIntyre missed the green himself on the seventh and then missed a putt from inside two feet on the next.

The 24-year-old found the water on the ninth but holed a clutch putt from the fringe to keep the damage to one shot, and Casey led by three at the turn.

A three putt at the tenth made it four bogeys in a row for MacIntyre and when Casey holed from 20 feet on the 11th, the lead was five shots.

Stone had endured a tough front nine, bogeying the second, sixth and seventh to turn in 38 but made a two putt birdie on the par five tenth and hit a beautiful tee shot into the par three next for another gain.

He chipped over the 12th green to drop a shot but made the most of the par five 13th and trimmed the lead back to four.

But Casey made a routine two putt birdie of his own on the 13th to get back five ahead, while MacIntyre joined Stone in second after holing from 15 feet on the next.

The leader looked in trouble when he found a nasty lie off the tee at the 15th, failed to get out of the rough and then flew his third but a brilliant clutch putt kept the damage to one.

Stone drove right up to the 17th green and got up and down for a birdie but a two putt gain on the last restored Casey's four shot cushion.

England's Laurie Canter and Finn Kalle Samooja finished at ten under, a shot clear of 2017 champion Sergio Garcia, Harrington and Austria's Bernd Wiesberger.

Spaniard Adri Arnaus, Belgian Thomas Detry, Dane Rasmus Højgaard, Japan's Takumi Kanaya, French duo Alexander Levy and Antoine Rozner, Austrian Matthias Schwab and China's Wu Ashun were at eight under.

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