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Victor Perez survives late scare to win in Abu Dhabi after brilliant bunker shot

Perez produced a sensational birdie from the sand on the 17th to clinch his first Rolex Series title.

Pa Sport Staff
Monday 23 January 2023 08:10 GMT
Victor Perez reflects on unexpected Abu Dhabi Championship win

Victor Perez survived a nervous finale to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by one shot after shooting a six-under-par 66 in his final round.

The Dundee-based Frenchman started the day a shot off co-leaders Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari and Min Woo Lee.

While former Open winners Lowry and Molinari faded, Australian Lee stayed in contention and managed to draw level after Perez dropped a shot at the 14th at Yas Links.

Perez, who finished runner-up here in 2020, responded impressively with an immediate birdie at the 15th before holing his bunker shot at the 17th for another gain and a two-shot lead.

It looked unassailable before he found another bunker and then the penalty area on the 18th but he took his medicine with a bogey to finish on a victorious 18-under-par total.

Lee and Swede Sebastian Soderberg finished tied for second after shooting 68 and 67 respectively, while Padraig Harrington, who at 51 was bidding to become the oldest winner on the DP World Tour, was fourth on his own on 16 under after closing with a 67.

An emotional Perez reflected on his birdie on the 17th as the “greatest” of his life.

The dramatic finish did not quite match his Dutch Open triumph in May, where he needed a play-off before he won on the fourth extra hole, but he admitted to hoping for a more routine victory next time.

“It is probably the greatest shot I ever hit,” Perez said of his birdie on the 17th.

“I got off to a good start and was trying to just focus on me, do the best I can because I know I can’t control what everybody else is doing. I was trying to plod along but Seb played fantastic and he was always right there.

“I am just delighted to finish on top because it was a crazy finish but I feel like I am used to that now! Hopefully I can make it a little easier for the next.

“It is a great year ahead. There are a lot of big things coming up. I’ve had a really good off-season, I’ve worked really hard.”

Molinari struggled to build on his overnight joint lead and could only card 71 for a tie of fifth while Lowry endured an error-strewn back nine with three bogeys and a double bogey to drop to 28th.

Tyrrell Hatton’s impressive final round 65 saw him earn a share of seventh.

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