Gary Stal triumphs as Martin Kaymer throws away a 10-shot lead with 13 holes to go
Unheralded Gary Stal, who is ranked 357th in the world, came from eight shots back to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, with a 19 under par score. It was his 41st tour event and his previous best tour finish had been a tie for 5th.
Aged 22 years and 343 days, Stal becomes the youngest winner of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, beating the previous record of Martin Kaymer, aged 23 years and 24 days in 2008. In 2008 Kaymer has started the final day six shots ahead on 17 under, and then collapsed somewhat, to card a 74, but the field could not capitalise on his slip up. This time he shot 75 and they did.
It had looked to be an easy victory for Kaymer when he birdied the 1st, 2nd and 4th holes and went 10 clear of the field after the 5th hole. But those were the last birdies he was to make, and on the 6th hole he made his first bogey for 47 holes, on 9 he carded a double bogey and on 13 a treble bogey.
“I don’t really know how to put it into words,” Kaymer said. “It was very, very surprising today. I started off well and hit a couple bad tee shots and cost me double-bogey and a triple-bogey. Twice I missed the grass and I was in a bush – I had to drop it in the sand. I missed a lot of putts today, and therefore, was very difficult for me to make birdies.”
Rory McIlroy could have forced a play-off had he holed out on 18 from a greenside bunker, and he darn nearly did. Instead McIlroy recorded his fourth second place in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, an event he has yet to win. He has come second in his last three European Tour events. He was again excellent from tee to green – making 17 greens in regulation – but his putting let him down, although he admitted it improved slightly when he got his caddie, JP Fitzgerald, to help him read his putts.
Stal’s 65 equals the lowest final round by a winner of this event, matching the score of Paul Casey in 2007. Ernie Els and Justin Rose also shot 65s, to move them 33 places up the leaderboard to joint 12th. Alexander Levy dropped 13 places from 9th to 20th on the 18th green when he three putted from under 4ft.
1) Gary Stal (FRA) 68-69-67-65 = 269
2) Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67-66-71-66 = 270
3) Martin Kaymer (GER) 64-67-65-75 = 271
T4) Victor Dubuisson (FRA) 69-72-64-67 = 272
T4) Thomas Pieters (BEL) 65-67-70-70 = 272
T6) James Morrison (ENG) 68-67-72-67 = 274
T6) Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 66-71-70-67 = 274
T6) Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 72-65-66-71 = 274