5 Things: Rock's solid and Tiger's tee trouble
The duel between Tiger Woods and Robert Rock - and later in the round, Rory McIlroy - was intriguing in how each stayed in contention. Rock did it through consistency and not making big blunders, while Tiger missed almost every fairway (he only hit two) and therefore didn't hit many greens in regulation. Yet, with a pitch-in eagle on the final hole, Tiger would have forced a playoff.
Abu Dhabi Championship: Final round
Check out images of Tiger Woods, champion Robert Rock and others at the 2012 Euro Tour HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship.
Here are 5 Things to take away from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:
1. Wayward Woods: Hitting only 2 of 14 fairways was unfortunate for Tiger on Sunday, especially after he had hit 10 of 14 in both the first and third rounds. To compound the problems off the tee, Tiger would only hit 6 of 18 greens in regulation. With how his putter was working on Sunday - he had only 12 putts on the front nine and 15 putts on the back nine - he needed a chance to be putting for birdie instead of saving par. Woods had only two bogeys in the first 54 holes (both came in the second round), but had three in the first 10 holes, including a bogey at the par-5 10th. Woods' card on the back-nine Sunday is unexciting, as he parred the last eight holes, never really applying the necessary pressure to Rock, instead waiting for him to make a mistake.
2. Solid as a Rock: For a round that clinched him the tournament championship, this wasn't Rock's best round statistically. He had three bogeys (including two on par 5s), but four birdies on par-4s - including the tough No. 16 - allowed him to stay ahead of the field. Rock was playing well coming into Abu Dhabi, finishing 12th at Volvo Golf Champions and 9th at the Joburg Open. With the win, he vaulted into the second spot in the Race For Dubai, only behind two-time 2012 Euro Tour winner Brendan Grace (who missed the cut in Abu Dhabi). He also ended 2011 strong, finishing 8th at the Dubai World Championship. Abu Dhabi is his first win since the Italian Open in June 2011.
3. Luck of the Irish: Northern Ireland continues to be represented well, as Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell combined to go 15 under on the weekend. McIlroy finished alone in second at 12 under, including a final-round 69 that was capped by a birdie on No. 18. Now, imagine if he hadn't picked up that two-stroke penalty during the second round for wiping away sand in front of his ball. Meanwhile, McDowell is starting the year on a hot note, recovering from a pedestrian first-round 72 with rounds of 69-68-68 to finish T-3 with Woods and Thomas Bjorn. McDowell had an ace at the par-3 12th hole on Sunday, landing it on the front of the green and watching it slip in on the right. McDowell was 5 under on the back-nine Sunday, including a shot on No. 18 that bounced off the base of the grandstands, kicked back onto the green, settled five feet from the cup and McDowell drained the putt. Talk about luck of the Irish . . .
4. Quiet weekend: Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, Nos. 1 and 2 in the world respectively, were finished with their rounds far before the final putt dropped on the round. Donald played with Tiger in the opening two rounds, and was the lost man with the focus on Tiger and McIlroy. He didn't break 70 all week, shooting rounds of 71-72-73-71 to finish T-48. Meanwhile, Westwood shot a final-round 70 to move up 10 spots on the leaderboard, recovering from mediocre 72-72 start with rounds of 68-70 on the weekend. He finished T-17.
5. The Tiger effect: Peter Hanson had a round on Sunday that he'd be better of forgetting. Tied for third coming into the afternoon, Hanson picked up four consecutive bogeys on the front nine and then a double-bogey six on No. 13 to fall 32 places. With a 69 and a 64 sandwiched by a first-round 74 and final-round 78, Hanson definitely proved to be streaky in Abu Dhabi. A day after carding eight birdies, he had none on Sunday. Hanson had been playing well, finishing fourth at the Dubai World Championship in November.