Rafa Cabrera Bello kept his cool to defeat fellow Dubai resident Adri Arnaus in a play-off to end his four year wait for a European Tour victory and complete the set of Spanish national championships at the Acciona Open de España presented by Madrid.
The 2012 Dubai Desert Classic champion started the final round with a two-stroke advantage but had lost it by the second tee and was two behind Arnaus at the turn after a battling front nine.
Three successive birdies from the 13th had him back in a share of the lead at 19 under and he produced a sublime up-and-down from the sand on the last after a ragged tee shot to save his par and take the contest to extra holes after a 69.
The Spanish duo both sent their tee shots left on the first trip back up the 18th but Cabrera Bello had the better lie and put his approach to 11 feet to seal a birdie and a fourth European Tour title.
As well as joining the likes of Spanish greats like Seve Ballesteros, Sergio Garcia and Miguel Ángel Jiménez as a professional winner of his national open, Cabrera Bello also sealed his spot in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after jumping up 42 places to 30th in the season-long rankings.
Arnaus, who finished runner-up for the fourth time in his European Tour career, will join his compatriot at Jumeirah Golf Estates after surging to 37th in the rankings.
“It was definitely one trophy that was on my bucket list,” said the 37-year-old, who has won this event at every age level from under-seven to under-18 as an amateur. “To add my name to all those champions — Alvaro (Quiros) as well that I can think of — it’s very, very special.
“I’m very, very happy. I knew it was going to be a really hard battle today and I don’t think I need to say that I didn’t get off to the ideal start.
“I’ve been believing in myself, I’ve had amazing support all this week rooting for me ever since the first minute and I was just hanging in there, I knew I’d have an opportunity and I’m glad that luck swung my way.
“I’ve loved this city since I came here for the first time but the last couple of years I’ve felt a really, really special connection with the crowd and the support has helped me a lot.
“I came here in probably the worst shape I have been in, in the last decade, close to say, and to walk out here with a win, it’s very special.”