Paul Casey's crown but Stephen Gallacher secures jump up rankings
When the latest world rankings are published this morning, the Scot is expecting to jump from 89th into the mid-70s, putting him on course to make the top 64 by the end by the end of the four-event Middle East Swing in a fortnight's time.
Gallacher signed off with a five-under-par 67 on the Colin Montgomerie-designed course at The Royal Golf Club for an 18-under total of 270, two shots behind Casey as the Englishman chalked up his first victory in 20 months.
Three off the lead at the start of the day, Gallacher dropped a shot at the second, repaired that damage with a birdie at the next before making his move with a run of four straight birdies from the sixth. The 36-year-old picked up another shot at the short 12th to move within a stroke of the leaders but six straight pars over the closing stretch saw him fall just short in a brave bid to add to his 2004 Dunhill Links triumph. Peter Hanson, who dropped a shot at the last, and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who birdied it, finished a shot ahead of Gallacher, who earned a cheque for 72,205 to climb to 14th position in this season's Race to Dubai.
"After four birdies in succession on front nine I fancied my chances. But I missed chances at 10, 11 and 13 and that was my chance there because the last six holes were playing very tough," said the Scot. "I am quite surprised where I finished, but I played good all week. I also played good last week (in Abu Dhabi] and it was good to continue that."
Gallacher now moves on to Qatar this week before the Middle East Swing finishes in Dubai, where Tiger Woods will join the cream of the European Tour. "A couple more good finishes would get me into World Matchplay. I have had a couple of top 10s in Qatar and like the way the course is set up and its linksy feel," he added.
Casey, who was controversially left out of Europe's Ryder Cup side by Montgomerie last year, sank a closing six-foot par putt to clinch the title. After an amazing 23 changes at the top of the leaderboard on the final day, Casey came to the 429-yard last level with Swede Hanson.
Montgomerie had tipped Hanson - "probably Europe's most-improved player" - to lift the trophy, but he went from rough to sand, then missed from 10 feet and with a bogey-5 dropped into a tie for second with Jimenez. Casey, at ninth in the world the highest-ranked player in the field, said: "It feels fantastic - the most important thing to me is winning and that was huge. The goal is obviously the majors, but how are you going to win major championships if you can't win regular events?"Third on the world rankings before he tore a rib muscle practising for the 2009 Open, Casey, who secured a first prize of 238,212, moves back into the top six. "I'm going in the right direction," he added. Course-record rounds of 63 from Dane Soren Kjeldsen and England's Richard Finch flattered to deceive in the desert because by the time the leaders came to the back nine a strong wind had picked up. "We thought it was going to be benign, but we faced a course that was treacherous," said Casey.
Darren Clarke, Hanson's compatriot Johan Edfors and South African James Kingston all slipped up after holding at least a share of the lead, Clarke having bogey-6s on both the ninth and 13th and finishing with a double bogey. Casey got his nose in front with an 18-foot birdie putt on the 15th, but had his only bogey of the last two rounds on the next. But, at the last, Casey kept his nerve and got up and down from the rough by the green to squeeze home. "Peter was phenomenal and didn't make any mistakes really until the last." Not quite true. Hanson was also left to rue a missed three-footer on the long 14th.
Clarke was only joint-eighth in the end, finishing alongside Richie Ramsay after the Scot signed off with a second successive 67. Fellow Aberdonian Paul Lawrie had an eagle and eight birdies in a 65 to finish in tie for 30th alongside Gary Orr (68) on 278, with Montgomerie (71 for 284) down in 59th.