Once again we were treated to some compelling golf and drama on Sunday morning on the final day of the Dubai Classic on the Earth course. Henrik Stenson started the day as leader by one stroke. Cabrera Bello had played a brilliant round on the third day and was in contention whilst Mcilroy and Rose lurked waiting pack.
As ever I had followed Steve Palmer’s advice and backed Stenson each way. My confidence began to wain as he did not play convincingly. Indeed after he went out of bounds and double bogeyed the eleventh, I did something I rarely do and that is to lay off by backing Cabrera Bello at evens. Stenson had not earned the nickname the ice man for nothing and it was fascinating to see him steady his game, sink a few testing putts to make his pars before setting up his victory with a sublime chip on the 17 th to birdie. He played the 18th carefully to win. Rory had to take risks to win and his 6 week absence from the game showed. Poor young Cabrera Bello double-bogeyed the 16 and 17th. It’s all about holding your nerve and putting the pressure on your rivals and the ice man is the master of this. He lost all his money with Alan Stansford so it’s good to see him back as a big time money winner though he has never notched a major.
In his Sunday column Steve Palmer was railing about his £100 betting limit. He even said that when he had big wins as with Hunter Mahan he treated his missus to a stylish handbag and therefore she misses the big gambles too. Personally I doubt this as most women married to heavy gamblers try to get them off the habit.
Rory has all but won the race to Dubai. There is no one really in contention though mention must be made of Shane Lowry in third place. The tubby Irishman who sometimes delivers a expletive on camera is a fine golfer and like Pettersen, Coetzee, Aphibarnrat of Thailand illustrates that corpulence is no bar to a successful golf career. Comparing these to the lean tall Stensen makes the game so diverse and all the more enjoyable. If you factor in Miguel Jimenez, the pony tailed Rioja swilling Spaniard, and the cigar puffing Darren Clarke you have a colourful array of sportsmen such as you do not see in many sports. Every course is different too. On a gusty British day I enjoyed watching the desert city of Dubai with its high rise buildings and a intriguing course with browns instead of greens. The iceman did not melt and retained the trophy.