Abu Dhabi: For most of the four-day Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Jamie Donaldson played in the shadow of world No 5 Justin Rose. But with five holes left, the Welshman stepped out and with two successive birdies, and despite a last-hole bogey, he swooped on the Falcon Trophy and with it the winner’s cheque of $450,000 (Dh1.65 million).
When Donaldson bogeyed the final hole it left him just one stroke ahead of Rose and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, who still had that final par-5 hole to play. Olesen, who had birdied the hole twice in the previous three rounds, narrowly missed another birdie attempt from about 15 feet while Rose, who had picked up a shot on the final hole yesterday, watched agonisingly as his putt from about eight feet missed by a whisker.
The thrilling end on a day when another Briton, David Howell, was also in contention more than made up for the early exit of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woodsc — the world’s top two players.
Donaldson’s 14-under score of 274 soured Rose’s debut and the Englishman finished tied second with Olesen at 13-under 275.
Portugal’s Ricardo Santo finished with a four-under 68 to move up four places and pick up fourth spot, while in fifth was South Africa’s Branden Grace, recorded his best round of seven-under 65, with 10 birdies and three bogeys, for an overall 10-under 278.
Donaldson’s victory was even more remarkable given his apparent lack of confidence at the start of the tournament. “You know, to win here is crazy,” he said. “After the start of the week, I played the Pro-am and thought this golf course is just too difficult.
“You’re just seeing the golf course to find out where you need to be hitting it, and I couldn’t hit it in the places I wanted to. But as the tournament came around, the wind died down a little, and I was able to hit more fairways than I did in the Pro-am, say.
“I said to the guys in the Pro-am, you know, if I could somehow get a top 10 out of this week, it would be a miracle. And to win it, saying this, it’s hilarious.”
He continued: “Yeah, to be honest I thought it’s probably going to be a playoff. You know, I hit a great putt, I just misread it. Just didn’t break. At the first, I thought I hit a great putt, as well, which just went on a little bit.”
Commenting on his dropped shot on the final hole and then the agonising wait for Rose and Olesen to finish, Donaldson said: “It was annoying to finish like that to be dead honest with you, but you need a little luck sometimes in golf to win. I’ve had tournaments snatched away from me before, so to finish like that was not quite the plan, but stood here with the trophy I’m very happy. It was an awesome field, one of the best fields I’ve ever played in.”