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24 February 2024

Cabrera-Bello wins Dubai Desert Classic

Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain kisses his trophy after winning the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai. (REUTERS)


Rafael Cabrera-Bello became the third consecutive Spanish winner of the $2.5 million Omega Dubai Desert Classic when he won on Sunday with a final round four-under par 68.

The 27-year-old, who follows in the footsteps of Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2010 and Alvaro Quiros last year, tallied 18-under par 270 to win by one shot over England's world number three Lee Westwood and Scotland's Stephen Gallacher.

The win, only his second on the European Tour for the world No119, is expected to lift him to around 60th in the rankings. His previous win the 2009 Austrian Open, where he had closed with a round of 60.

Germany's Marcel Siem was in sole fourth place at 15-under par 273, while world number two Rory McIlroy endured another frustrating day on the greens before a birdie on the final hole lifted him to tied fifth position at 14-under par.

Also finishing on 274 were South African George Coetzee, Scot Scott Jamieson and Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen.

On a tough windy day at the Majlis course of the Emirates Golf Club, Cabrera-Bello was bogey-free, and while his birdie on the 17th hole proved crucial to break the deadlock against Westwood and Gallacher, it was his incredible par save from under the trees on the 16th that turned out to be the key moment.

"I am just so happy," said Cabrera-Bello, who was playing ahead of the leadergroup which comprised Westwood and Gallacher. "I played well throughout the week and am delighted to finish ahead of such a good field this week. This is unbelievable.

"When I saw that we were tied for the lead, I thought I could deliver the first punch by making a birdie.

"That would put some pressure on them. So, the birdie was important, but equally important was the fact that I managed to avoid making a bogey on the 16th after that errant tee shot."

Westwood, who was looking to go one better than his two runners-up finish in Dubai Desert Classic, began well by making an eagle two on the par-4 second hole, but he could not make his up-and-down from the fringe on the par-5 18th hole.

Gallacher, looking for his first win since the 2004 Dunhill Links Championship, needed to make a 20-footer birdie putt on the last to catch up with Cabrera-Bello, but could not make it.

"It's just a bit disappointing. Would have loved to have made the playoff. But fair play to Rafa, he played well, and 18-under is a good score in these conditions," said Gallacher.

"It was tricky conditions compared to yesterday. Didn't really hit the ball as good off the tee as I had done yesterday, but hit my iron shots pretty good and holed a few putts. It was close but no cigar."