Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Sergio Garcia presented fiancé Angela Akins with the perfect engagement present. The happy couple will leave the Middle East with a check for $441,660 after Garcia won the $2.65 million Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Garcia, who got engaged to Akins on Jan. 7, won the tournament for the first time with a 19-under 271. It was good enough to see off 2007 winner Henrik Stenson by three shots. England’s Tyrell Hatton continued his fine run of play with a third-place finish at 14 under along with Denmark’s Lasse Jensen.
Garcia began the final round with a three-shot lead over the reigning Open champion and was never knocked off his stride. A closing 3-under 69 gave Garcia his 12th European Tour win, and his first since the 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
“It was tough,” Garcia said. “Even without playing his best, Henrik doesn’t give anything away and it was tighter than probably everyone thought. I was happy to play the way I played and some of the key moments the way I handled them to beat Henrik, because we all know how good he is.”
The Spaniard laid down a marker right from the start. He birdied the par-4 first to extend his lead to four and basically went into cruise control afterwards. Straight pars until the ninth when he notched up his second birdie of the day meant Stenson was going to have to push hard over the back nine to defeat his Ryder Cup teammate.
Stenson began his back-nine charge well with a birdie at the par-5 10th to Garcia’s par, but a bogey at the 12th dampened his chances. He made up for it with back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 to reduce the deficit to two shots. Then came a serious misclub at the par-3 15th.
The Swede airmailed the green with his approach and then watched as Garcia’s ball came to rest within two feet of the flag for a guaranteed birdie. Stenson’s title hopes vanished when he fluffed his chip from behind the green.
“Fifteen for me was important,” said Garcia, who didn’t make a bogey in the final round. “He was coming at me with two birdies. He unfortunately hit it over the green and made bogey but to hit to within two feet and go four clear was key.”
Stenson didn’t have his game with him in the final round but will rue the 15th for a while to come.
“I was chasing all day and I was trying to push, even though I didn’t play my best,” Stenson said. “I was hoping I was going to be able to make it a bit interesting coming into the last couple of holes. If you’re one or two behind, with 17 and 18, a lot of things can happen: You can eagle and someone else can end up in trouble.
“We picked the wrong wind and I hit the wrong shot at the same time. Airmailed the green on 15 and led to bogey. Sergio hit a good shot to three feet and then it was pretty much game, set, match.”
Hatton’s stock continues to rise. He finished fourth on last year’s European Tour money list and began this year with a T-13 in Abu Dhabi. He put together rounds of 65 and 67 over the weekend to shoot up the leaderboard.