Thomas Pieters wins Abu Dhabi Championship by one shot at Yas Links


Thomas Pieters with trophy
Thomas Pieters is the first Belgian to win a Rolex Series event
-10 T Pieters (Bel); -9 R Cabrera Bello (Spa), S Shubhankar (Ind); -8 V Dubiusson (Fra), V Hovland (Nor)
Selected others: -7 T Hatton (Eng), I Poulter (Eng) J Morrison (Eng); -6 A Scott (Aus), S Jamieson (Sco); -5 R McIlroy (NI), S Lowry (Ire)

Belgian Thomas Pieters held his nerve to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by one shot at Yas Links.

Pieters carded a level-par 72 to triumph on 10 under and finish ahead of Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello (70) and India’s Sharma Shubhankar (71).

France’s Victor Dubuisson hit a 69 to end joint fourth on eight under with Norway’s Viktor Hovland (72).

Tyrrell Hatton said he would like to “blow up” the 18th after it ruined his chance of defending the title.

The Englishman did birdie the par-five hole – measured at 634 yards – in Sunday’s final round as he closed with a five-under 67 to finish on seven under, but called it a “terrible finishing hole”.

Hatton, who won this title when it was played at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in 2021, had a double-bogey seven in Friday’s blustery conditions and then signed for a ruinous quadruple-bogey nine on Saturday.

“I would love for a bomb to drop on it and blow it to oblivion,” he told BBC Sport.

“The fact they’ve moved the tee back is ridiculous. I hit a really good tee shot and I’ve still got 290 yards to the front [of the green].

“I could peg driver up again and still not get there. It’d be a much better finishing hole if you were rewarded for hitting the fairway, which as it stands, you’re not.

“If we’re coming back here next year, it’d be nice if they redesigned it. It’s a bit of an ask so we may not be back.”

Hatton finished alongside fellow Englishmen Ian Poulter (72) and James Morrison (72) and Austria’s Jeff Winther (70).

For Pieters, who started the final round one off the lead, it was a sixth win on the DP World Tour – formerly European Tour – and follows his victory at the Portugal Masters last November.

He birdied the eighth, bogeyed the 11th and had 16 pars as others around him faltered.

The 30-year-old told BBC Sport he felt he “had good control” of his ball all day and “wasn’t expecting anyone to go crazy low because the pin positions were tricky, or questionable at best”.

“You had to pick your spot on the green and then two-putt. That played in my hands because I could par my way in,” he added.

Pieters is the first Belgian to win a Rolex Series event, of which there are four others this season, starting with next week’s Dubai Desert Classic. The Genesis Scottish Open and the BMW PGA Championship follow in the summer before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Rory McIlroy briefly threatened, with an eagle and five birdies to reach eight under after 13 but bogeyed three of the last five holes.

The Northern Irishman holed his second shot from 140 yards on the par-four ninth and followed that with birdies on the 10th, 12th and 13th, but a wayward drive on the 14th cost him a shot.

Another went on the par-three 17th and after hitting the perfect tee shot on the last, allowing him to take on the water and go for the green, he tugged his second way left into the water as he closed with another bogey and a three-under 69.

“It was an eight under par weekend so a step in the right direction,” McIlroy told BBC Sport. “It’s hard to get the negatives out of my head right now after three bogeys in the final five holes but overall there are more positives.”

Long-time leader Scott Jamieson, who opened with a nine-under 63 on day one and led on 11 under after round three, bogeyed four of his first five holes as he hit a 77 to drop back to six under.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who started the final round one shot off the lead, failed to recover from a triple-bogey seven on the opening hole as he also shot a 77 and finished five under.

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