Rock holds off greats in Abu Dhabi
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship | Wrap | 30 Jan 2012
34 year old Englishman, Robert Rock, is the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship winner, holding off some of the game’s greats on a final day full of intrigue.
Rock would win by one over Rory McIlory and by two over Tiger Woods, Thomas Bjorn and Graeme McDowell, securing his second European Tour title in the process and opening up all sorts of opportunity for him.
Rock had already established himself as a good solid player on the European Tour when his first victory came at the Italian Open last year but this victory takes his game to another level again.
The victory should take him close to the top 60 in the world after starting the week in 117th position and with significant events in which to play over the next few weeks the possibility exists for Rock to be on his way to Augusta National in April. He needs to be inside the top 50 by early April in order for that to be the case but he has created the possibility.
Starting the final round tied in the lead with Woods, Rock made the perfect start with three birdies in the first six holes. Woods also made a good start with two early birdies but when he bogeyed the 4th and 5th Rock was left in front.
When Rock bogeyed the 8th and Woods birdied the 9th the difference was just one but Woods was struggling from the tee and when he bogeyed the 10th the gap was again two.
Ahead on the golf course Rory McIlory was slowly but surely making his presence felt and when he finished with a round of 69 he had moved into outright second position.
Even with a two shot lead over McIlroy as he headed to the 18th tee, Rock still had one last bullet to dodge, that being the potential for Woods to produce his normal heroics at the final hole. The par five is reachable and when Rock’s tee shot appeared to find trouble the door was still open, if only just, for Woods to produce the near impossible escape.
Woods, though, would find the rough himself and his chance was all but gone. Rock took his medicine with a penalty drop and made bogey but it was good enough for a two shot win over McIlroy.
“I was just hoping to play well in that company today and give myself a chance and not blow myself out of it,” said Rock after his victory. “What it means for me long term I don’t know – it is just something in the future that I will be proud to say I did and even just playing with him will be nice to be able to say.”
Woods was unable to make any ground over the closing eight holes, his errant driving not allowing him the opportunity to attack and he would tie for second with McDowell and Thomas Bjorn.
McDowell stormed home by playing the final seven holes in 5 under a stretch which included a hole in one at the 12th while Bjorn would also record the equal best round of the day to finish in the tie for 2nd.
George Coetzee and Matteo Manassero finished in a tie for 6th.
The leading Australians and only ones to make the cut were Richard Green and Marcus Fraser who finished tied for 63rd.
The European Tour now moves north to Qatar for this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
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