Date: January 19, 2009
Author: PA Sport

Casey wins Abu Dhabi

Paul Casey gave a huge sigh of relief after clinging on for his first victory in two years at the Abu Dhabi Championship. Coasting to victory, or so it seemed, when he led by six with only eight holes to play, Casey then bogeyed three of the next four. Although he was not looking at leaderboards and did not know it, up ahead of him South African Louis Oosthuizen posted an eight-under-par 64 and suddenly the gap was only one. However, the 31-year-old Ryder Cup star, whose last win came in the same event at the start of 2007, parred the closing stretch for a 70 and a 21-under total of 267. Robert Allenby was the best placed Australian in a tie for 15th at 13-under, one shot ahead of Brett Rumford, while halfway leader Richard Green was a further stroke back in a tie for 26th. Rod Pampling, Scott Strange and Aaron Baddeley finished well done the leaderboard in 37th, 50th and 62nd respectively. Having slipped from 12th in the world to outside the top 40, the ninth European Tour title of his career should take Casey close to the top 20 again. “That was a bit of a nervous one,” admitted the former World Match Play champion. “I started off great, but it was tricky coming in. The greens were exceptionally difficult to read and there were a couple of camera clicks which put me off.” “It feels very satisfying to get my hands on the trophy again.” “I didn&apost think I would have to wait so long. My game is now better than it&aposs ever been and I&aposve played some great stuff in spurts, but I&aposve never really put it together.” “I&aposve been focused very much on the majors, and performed well, and maybe neglected other tournaments. That&aposs what I&aposm trying to do and it looks like it&aposs paying off.” Defending champion Martin Kaymer tied for second with Oosthuizen thanks to an eagle on the 557-yard last, and that could be enough to take the 24-year-old German into the world&aposs top 20 for the first time. Londoner Anthony Wall was fourth and joint fifth came Open and US PGA champion Padraig Harrington, Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy and Swede Johan Edfors, while Sergio Garcia&aposs 64 lifted him into a tie for eighth with England&aposs Danny Willett. It looked like being a masterclass in how to defend a lead when Casey, four clear after a dazzling third-round 63, resumed with back-to-back birdies and added two more for an outward 32. Done and dusted, you might have thought, when another came on the long 10th. But he failed to get up and down from the sand at the next, three-putted from around six feet on the 13th after an ill-timed camera click, then was twice in rough to drop a further stroke. He and Kaymer were also being timed for slow play, but Casey kept his composure to underline why Nick Faldo gave him a wild card into the Ryder Cup last September. Oosthuizen was seeking his first European Tour success, but the former world junior champion has won four times in his home country and shot 62 in Hong Kong in November. Colin Montgomerie came 37th and will probably remember the week more for all the fuss over whether he is about to become Ryder Cup captain. That will be revealed in Dubai on Wednesday week, but it looks likely to happen – and that is a surprise given how much he said he wanted to play at Celtic Manor in 2010 after losing his place last year.