England’s Danny Willett won his fourth European Tour Title on Sunday following a nerve-racking finish in the Dubai Desert Classic. Overnight leader Willet sunk a 15-foot putt for birdie on the 18th to card a three-under-par 69, which was enough to edge out fellow compatriot Andy Sullivan by just one stroke.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy was in imperious form as he struck eight birdies during an excellent round of 65 to set an early clubhouse lead but he eventually had to settle for a sixth-placed finish. Sullivan carded a 68 during the final round but that was only enough for joint second place alongside Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain on 18-under-par.
28-year-old Willett, who tied for 6th in the British Open golf tournament last year, began the day on top but he lost his advantage after a bogey on the second hole. He soon bounced back, with three birdies in four holes sending him clear at the summit before a bogey on the ninth and 14th set him back slightly again.
Willett eventually held his nerve with a final birdie on the 18th as he secured his first victory since the Omega European Masters in July last year. He will now move up to a provisional career best of 12th in the world rankings and third in the 2016 Ryder Cup standings while boosting his chances of qualifying for the British Olympic team.
Willet said, “”I’m just ecstatic. You can’t buy that feeling, coming down the back nine, the last three holes, in contention in a golf tournament. You can’t pay for that experience; you’ve got to earn it. You’d love to win by five or six every time, but when you win in that fashion it does feel that little bit extra special. It means when the pressure is on I can produce the goods.”