HOW IT HAPPENED...
Paul Casey launched 2007 with a renewed determination to capture The European Tour Order of Merit crown which eluded him so narrowly in 2006. And, on the evidence of an eighth Tour victory – and a hard fought one at that – in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Casey’s near miss whetted his appetite to go one better.
For much of a tense day in the Gulf sunshine, Casey was locked in combat with his main rival for the Harry Vardon Trophy last year, Padraig Harrington. But while the Irishman, who claimed the title as European Number One at Valderrama, slipped up over the back nine, Casey ventured forward with an intensity and focus which burned off all opposition.
The Englishman, who was voted European Tour Golfer of the Year for his 2006 exploits, claimed his eighth European Tour title with a closing round of 65 for a 17 under par total of 271, and even a three putt at the 18th for the second day in a row was not enough to halt the Casey juggernaut in full flight.
Casey finished one shot ahead of Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez and Swede Peter Hanson with Harrington in a share for fifth behind defending champion Chris DiMarco after a last hole bogey.
Paul Casey 2009 Champion
HOW IT HAPPENED...
Paul Casey survived a late scare to secure his second Abu Dhabi Golf Championship by a single shot from Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer.
The 31-year-old Englishman led by six shots at the turn but his form with the putter deserted him on the back nine and the South African’s brilliant 64 left Casey needing to par the last two holes.
Defending champion Kaymer eagled the last for a round of 67 – which would have seen him into a play-off had recently married Casey not held his nerve to two putt from 12 feet on the 18th green, eventually posting a two under par 70 for a tournament total 21 under 267 – the lowest winning score in the Championship’s history.
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.
However, The Ryder Cup star, whose last win came in the same event at the start of 2007, parred the closing stretch for a 70 and took the €245,122 first prize.