Dubai Desert Classic
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Alvaro Quiros won the tournament no one seemed to want to win, at least no one of note.
With Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood poised to take the 22nd Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Quiros sneaked in under the radar and stole the show.
Dubai Desert Classic
Images from the Dubai Desert Classic, played Feb. 10-13 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
A closing 4-under 68 helped the big-hitting Spaniard to a one-shot victory over Denmark’s Anders Hansen and South Africa's James Kingston.
Quiros finished the tournament at 11 under, and with a $416,660 paycheck.
Quiros had a hole-in-one on the par-3 11th hole, while also tallying two eagles to give him a European Tour victory for the fifth straight year.
Quiros began the final round one shot behind McIlroy, South Africa’s Thomas Aiken and Hansen. The Spaniard quickly took the lead when he eagled the second hole when his tee shot landed near the green and he holed his 15-foot chip.
However, a triple bogey at the No. 8 when his ball lodged in a palm tree set him back among the chasing pack. A birdie at nine repaired some damage before the hole in one at No. 11.
“It was a difficult situation,” Quiros said. “Obviously the start of the day was perfect with an early eagle and birdies, but then after the 8th, I was shaken.”
Then came the 11th and the shot of his career so far.
“It was a three-quarter wedge and it was the perfect shot. Once a year it happens. It was the positive point of the round.”
At least Quiros had a positive point to his round. Garcia, McIlroy and Woods didn’t.
McIlroy proved he hasn’t quite mastered the true art of patience, the mantra he had been uttering all week. McIlroy only had two birdies in a round of 74 and a tie for 10th place. He and the rest of Europe still await his second European Tour win.
For nearly three and a half rounds it looked like Garcia’s new claw putting grip might just be what he needs to forget the last two dismal years. Playing alongside Woods, Garcia held his own for eight holes before his game crumbled.
A triple bogey at No. 9 killed his chances. He hit a horrible drive, could only pitch back to the fairway and then hit his third shot into the pond that fronts the green.
His body language after that suggested he wanted out of Dubai as quickly as possible. He came home in 75 to finish T20.
Woods’ body language wasn’t much better. He came unstuck on the Emirates’ tough front nine for the second day in row. Back-to-back bogeys to begin his round and a 1-over-par front nine was not what was needed to mount a charge for his third Dubai Desert Classic victory.
Sadly, the back nine didn’t hold much comfort for the former world No. 1 either. Woods racked up bogies on Nos. 12 and 14, and finished the day with a double-bogey at the par-5 18th.
It amounted to a 3-over-par 75 for Woods, his worst score by two in 24 rounds over the Emirates course. Woods finished in joint 20th spot, his worst finish in six visits to the desert.
Woods struggled in the breeze that swept over the Emirates Course, even though it wasn’t as strong as the third round. He hit three fairways, and only 11 of 18 greens.
Despite those numbers, Woods left the Middle East claiming the week was a success. He headed home for more work with new swing coach Sean Foley.
“There were quite a few positives this week but quite a few glaring examples of what I need to work on, which is good,” Woods said. “It’s fine when the wind is not blowing, but to have hit shots when the wind blows, the change of feels in the new swing patterns, they get exposed.
“It’ll come around. I just need more work and I need more practice. It was a step in the right direction. I improved a lot considering where I was at Torrey Pines a couple of weeks ago. But I didn’t finish the way I needed to finish to win this golf tournament. I just didn’t get it done.”