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Donaldson pips Ryder Cup hero Rose to Abu Dhabi title

Donaldson pips Ryder Cup hero Rose to Abu Dhabi title
Sports
Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 9:54pm

Justin Rose couldn't miss when he was part of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team last year but his putter let him down when his time came to force a playoff at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

The Englishman's putt caught the lip but didn't drop meaning Jamie Donaldson was able to secure his second European Tour victory without the nerve-shredding tension of a head-to-head over an extra few holes.

It took the 37-year-old Welshman 255 appearances to claim his maiden victory on the Tour -- at the Irish Open last year -- but only another 14 to land one of the most prestigious trophies on the circuit.

Donaldson carded a four-under-par final round of 68 but he dropped a shot on the final hole, opening the door to Rose and Denmark's 23-year-old Thorbjorn Olesen, who was also one shot back.

But both players missed with their birdie attempts to secure Donaldson a title he admitted he thought he had no chance of winning during a pro-am tournament at the course on Wednesday.

"It's pretty surreal," Donaldson said at the presentation. "I played good golf all week, particularly today. I got away with murder up the last to be fair, but I'm very happy to be stood here with the trophy.

"It's a funny old game. I came during the week to play the pro-am and thought the course was too difficult. To be stood here holding the trophy is just mad.

"It was a nerve racking wait. I thought I hit a good putt on the last, I just misread it. I thought one of them would hole, if not both. I thought it was going to be a playoff, but when both slid by I knew it was my week."

Donaldson's impressive 2012 catapulted him to No. 47 in the world rankings -- he is set to climb higher with this latest triumph -- and secured him an invitation to the first major championship of the year, The Masters at Augusta in April.

He carded five birdies in the opening 17 holes to overtake a stuttering Rose, who bogeyed three of his first 16. Rose, instrumental in Europe's Ryder Cup comeback at Medinah last October, struggled on the greens to relinquish his grip on the tournament.

The lead was briefly held by England's David Howell, a member of Europe's winning Ryder Cup teams of 2004 and 2006, as he continued his resurgence having been 569th in the world rankings three years ago. But an inexplicable four-putt from four feet on the 13th saw him plummet down the leaderboard.

In a sparkling round, Donaldson's only dropped shot came on the final hole, which opened the door to the chasing duo, but neither Rose nor Olesen could take advantage as they shared second place.

Portugal's Ricardo Santos came fourth on 11-under while South Africa's Branden Grace was a shot further back on 10-under. Both Tiger Woods and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy failed to make the cut.

Donaldson said he was delighted with his recent form, and to pick up another title so soon after his first triumph at the 2012 Irish Open.

"It's like buses I suppose, it took a while," he added. "I had four years in wilderness if you like. To come through and win the Irish Open was fantastic and to top it off with this has been awesome."

As for his chances of winning the Masters he said: "You never know in this game, like I say you are stood here thinking on Wednesday you've got no chance and here I am with the trophy.

"I've got to keep working hard and doing the things that enabled me to win this trophy."

 

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