England’s Paul Casey (pictured) made a flying start to the European Tour season by coming from behind to win the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

In searingly hot conditions, his seven-under-par final round of 65 was enough to see him overtake his Ryder Cup colleague Padraig Harrington, Sweden’s Peter Hanson and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez and secure the £170,000 first prize. He is now the early favourite for the 2007 Order of Merit ? the title he was beaten to by Harrington on the final day of the 2006 season.

Casey’s 65 included eight birdies, as he again bettered his previous day’s score at the Abi Dhabi Golf Club. He finished on a final total of 271 after rounds of 71, 68, 67 and 65. Harrington, the overnight leader, struggled to a final round of 71 and eventually had to settle for a share of fifth place after enduring a difficult back nine.

Hanson and Jiménez both shot 68s to finish one behind Casey, and the Spaniard was left to wonder what might have been after dropping a shot over the final two holes. US Ryder Cup star Chris DiMarco finished with a flourish, carding a 66 to secure fourth position.

“At the beginning of the week I wanted to see if I could win one of the three Middle Eastern tournaments but I never thought I’d win at the first time of asking,” said Casey.

“I was pushed all the way and when I was making birdies I was thinking that Miguel and Padraig were behind me making them too. As far as professional rounds go, it was probably my best ever.”

FINAL SCORES

-17 P Casey (Eng)
-16 M-A Jimenez (Spa), P Hanson (Swe)
-15 C DiMarco (US)
-14 P Harrington (Ire), R Goosen (RSA), J-F Lucquin (Fra)