Abu Dhabi, Jan 19: Shubhankar Sharma had a completely off-day inn the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, as he finished the week with a three-over 75 and slipped to Tied-59thwith a total of three-under 285.
Meanwhile, the 46-year-old veteran and overnight leader Lee Westwood (67) finished with a comprehensive two-shot win over fellow Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood (63) and Matt Fitzpatrick (67) and Frenchman Victor Perez (63).
The trio chased Westwood hard, but he did not lose his grip. No one went better than 17-under. Westwood, after getting to 19-under before the turn, dropped a shot on 16th, but birdied 18thto finish at 19-under for his 25thEuropean Tour title, also his 44thprofessional win.
Focussed and fitter than ever, Westwood spent part of the off-season relaxing in Thailand, working out in the gym and testing clubs in Dubai. He moves into Top-30, up from 63rdat the start of the week, and revealed celebrations will have to wait. He said, “Dry January. I promised myself when I came back from Thailand, I wouldn’t have a drink until after Saudi, so (I will) be on the sparkling water.”
As for India’s Sharma, he began well with a birdie on second and a series of pars but a soft bogey on Par-5 took away any chance of building up a momentum. He dropped shots on eighth, 11th, 12thand 16th. He missed fairways, found water on a Par-3 and hit some below par iron shots to sum up the day.
After seven birdies on the third day, he was disappointed at getting just one on Sunday.
“After the eighth, I just did not get going. It was the first tournament of the year. Initially the irons did not work and when they did, I missed some other chances and had as many five three-putts in the week. Sure, there were some positives, too. I would like take them as I play in Dubai next week and then Saudi. I would call the week a mixed bag,” said Sharma. “A good start in these three big events is always good for the rest of the season and I will be working on some of the things in next few days.”
Fitzpatrick started two behind, and one group ahead, never really got any closer, while Westwood’s playing partners, Italian Francesco Laporta (74) and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (72) never got going.
Fleetwood and Perez, playing five and six groups ahead after starting six behind, were the ones who chased the ultimate winner. With Westwood not making any mistakes save the bogey on 16th, Fleetwood and Perez ran out of holes.
If Perez closed with an eagle after seven birdies, two-time champion in Abu Dhabi, Fleetwood showed his affinity for the Abu Dhabi Golf Club course with a 63 that included three birdies in first four holes, then three in a row from seventh to ninth and another trio from 15thto 17th.
Westwood said, “I wasn’t really paying any attention to what other people were doing. I was trying to control me, control my emotions and control what I’m working on in the golf swing. Just managed to do that. A little slip-up at 16. Really just pleased with the way I controlled myself.”
Westwood now moves inside Top-30 and goes up in Ryder Cup rankings. He added, “I’m not sure I can take any more Ryder Cups. Played ten, and it was good watching the lads last time. But you know, obviously if there’s a chance of that, then I might as well go for it.”