Dubai: Veteran Indian golfer Arjun Atwal Sunday ended a frustrating four-year title drought by winning the inaugural Dubai Open by one stroke after South Korean teenager Wang Jeung-hun bogeyed the final hole at the par-72 Els Club Dubai here.
Atwal, a former Asian Tour number one, trailed by one heading into the par-five 18th hole but emerged victorious with a closing birdie while a nervous 19-year-old Wang posted a six following a wayward second shot which ended in a bush.
The 41-year-old Indian, one of four overnight leaders at the final tournament of the 2014 Asian Tour season, ended the day of high drama by signing off with a six-under-par 66 and a winning total of 16-under-par 2727 while Wang carded for a 67. Scotsman Simon Yates took third place following a 68.
Other Indians in the fray, overnight leader Shiv Kapur and Gaganjeet Bhullar had a tough day and shared the 11th place with two others. While Shiv carded a par score to take his total to 10-under 278, Bhullar managed one-under 71.
Jeev Milkha Singh finished joint 31st with a four-under 68 which took his total to six-under 282.
However, the day belonged to Atwal. After opening his week with a 73, Atwal said his putting clicked that he needed only 27, 24 and 25 putts over the last three rounds after taking 34 strokes on day one.
“This one feels really special,” beamed Atwal, whose last victory came at the 2010 Wyndham Championship on the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour.
“I think the last time I won on the Asian Tour was 2008 (Maybank Malaysian Open). I've gone through some really tough times the last few years with injuries and losing my card on the PGA Tour and all that stuff. It was at a point where I almost wanted to quit. Thanks to a few of my family and friends, I didn't, and here we are.”
Atwal paid tribute to Wang, who looked so much in control of the final round before dropping those late bogeys to hand the Indian his eighth Asian Tour title and the top cheque of $90,000.
Wang, who has not missed a single cut this season, produced a flawless 31 on the first nine and led by three shots at one stage before his late blemishes. He opened the door for Atwal with a second bogey of the day on 17th when he three-putted before missing a 10-foot par attempt on the last hole.
In the top-60 fight on the Order of Merit to earn playing rights for 2015, Aussie Jake Higginbottom fired a superb 64 for tied fourth place which pushed him up from 65th to 53rd place while Thailand’s Namchok Thantipokakul finished tied 19th to move up one rung to 60th place for the last Tour card of 2015.
Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland started the day one off the lead but was never a factor as he signed off with a 72 for tied 15th place.
272: Arjun Atwal (IND) 73-65-68-66.
273: Wang Jeung-hun (KOR) 71-67-68-67.
275: Simon Yates (SCO) 71-67-69-68.
276: Jake Higginbottom (AUS) 72-71-69-64, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 74-69-65-68.
277: Carlos Pigem (ESP) 70-73-68-66, Daisuke Kataoka (JPN) 73-66-68-70, Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA) 68-72-67-70, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 71-69-67-70, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 70-72-64-71.
278: Bryce Easton (RSA) 69-71-69-69, Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-71-68-69, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 69-69-69-71, Shiv Kapur (IND) 71-66-69-72.
279: Unho Park (AUS) 75-68-69-67, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 75-70-67-67, Thitiphun Chuayprakong (THA) 70-71-67-71, Darren Clarke (NIR) 72-71-64-72.