DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Alvaro Quiros of Spain won the Dubai Desert Classic with a wild final round on Sunday that included a hole-in-one and triple bogey as Tiger Woods fell out of contention early and lost his bid to win his first tournament in 15 months.
On a day when the leaderboard constantly changed, the 36th-ranked Quiros shot a 68 to finish with an 11-under 277, one shot better than overnight co-leader Anders Hansen of Denmark and James Kingston of South Africa. A shot further back were Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France, Scott Strange of Australia and Alvaro Velasco of Spain.
Woods, who started the final day a shot off the lead, began his round badly for a second straight day with two bogeys in his first three holes and never recovered. Ranked third in the Official World Golf Ranking, the 35-year-old is still seeking his first tournament trophy in more than a year after falling well short with a final round 3-over 75 and ending tied for 20th with a total of 4-under 284.
“There were quite a few positives this week but a couple of glaring examples of what I need to work on,” Woods said. “It’s like anything. All my old feels (for the clubs) are out the window when the winds blow. That’s the thing when you are making change. It’s fine when the wind is not blowing. But when you have to hit a shot when the wind blows … the new swing patterns get exposed.”
Coming into Sunday, it was still anyone’s tournament to win and several big names along with Woods seemed poised for victory. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy was tied at the top with Hansen and a resurgent Sergio Garcia of Spain was tied with Woods and five others a shot back. Twenty players were within three shots of the lead and many of them made runs on Sunday including the 148th-ranked Kingston who was three shots off the lead.
But it was Quiros who struck early with an eagle on the second and two birdies on the next three holes to stake himself to a three-shot lead. But just as dramatically, he fell back into a tie with Hansen and several others at 8 under when he triple bogeyed the eighth hole — hitting an unplayable drive and then a second shot into a tree.
He recovered quickly with a birdie on nine and then a dramatic hole-in-one on the 11th, hitting a wedge 145 yards that landed on the green and rolled into the hole. It gave him back the lead.
But just as quickly, Quiros gave it up to Hansen after he bogeyed the 14th and Hansen eagled the 13th. Hansen could have at least tied it but missed several birdie putts on the way in including a 30-footer on the 18th to finish the round on 2-under 70.
“It was incredible for you guys outside but for me it was a difficult situation,” Quiros said of his fifth European Tour victory that will move him up the rankings to 21st. “The beginning of the day was perfect but after the eighth hole I was shaken.”
But, he added, victory was in sight after the hole-in-one.
“It was the perfect shot. Once a year, it happens,” he said. “It was a big point in the round. After the 10th hole, I was second or third with some of the other guys and then after the hole-in-one I was the leader.”
The 70th-ranked Hansen, who had his best finish since finishing second at last year’s Singapore Open, was left to rue his missed chances.
“Obviously, a little disappointed,” Hansen said. “I gave myself a chance after leading and got myself out of it early but brought myself back in it. Thought I played nicely but Alvaro played great.”
Woods was not alone among the big names on the star-studded leaderboard to falter down the stretch.
Garcia, who lost the lead Saturday after carding two bogeys and a double bogey, had similar problems Sunday. He briefly tied for the lead after a birdie on the opening hole, but fell back with a bogey on the fifth and ended his chances on the ninth with a triple bogey when his ball ended up in the water. The former No. 2-ranked Spaniard finished with a 3-over 75 to finish in a tie for 20th.
McIlroy lost the lead early after opening with a bogey. He pulled two shots back with birdies on the third and 10th, but trailing by three shots, he fell back down the leaderboard after carding three consecutive bogeys on the back nine to finish with a 2-over 74 and in a tie for 10th.
Top-ranked Lee Westwood quietly made a run on Sunday, moving to 8 under with four holes to play. But then he endured a double-bogey on 17 when his ball got stuck in a tree and ended with a bogey on 18 to finish on even par and in a tie for 15th.
“That will piss you off pretty quickly, won’t it, sticking it up a palm tree when you think you have a chance of winning,” Westwood said.
But Westwood said he took several positives away from a weekend where he initially struggled with distance and control and only started making his putts on Sunday. It was an improvement over Qatar where he missed the cut and the Abu Dhabi Championship where he finished 64th.
“Positives are I had a chance to win,” Westwood said. “First long putt I’ve made all week was on the 14th. I haven’t played my best, and had a chance with two holes to play to post a total that would have been probably half decent, I guess 10 under, if I could have birdied the last two holes. Plenty to take out of it.”
After his early struggles that echoed his difficulties Saturday, Woods managed to claw a shot back when his approach shot on the 6th ended a few feet from the pin. However, Woods twice followed a birdie on the back nine with a bogeys and then double bogeyed the 18th to end his chances for good.
Woods, who won in Dubai in 2006 and 2008, is now in the midst of the longest victory drought of his career. His last win came at the Australian Masters in November 2009.