Shane Lowry held his nerve against a surging Richard Sterne to secure a stunning wire-to-wire victory at the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA with an ice cool birdie on the final hole.
The Irishman, who had led the tournament from day one, had to hold off a dramatic challenge from Sterne, who carded an extraordinary six birdies on the front nine to propel him into a four shot lead in a yo-yo contest that went down to the very last putt.
Two bogeys from Sterne and back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th from Lowry meant that both players drove down the final hole all square. The South African’s misfortune continued when he sliced his second shot into the crowd and could only secure a par while his opponent kept his nerve to secure his first European Tour win since 2015.
Commenting on his memorable victory, Lowry said: “I had great chats with my coach this week about hanging in there no matter what I do, no matter what I shoot and no matter what shots I hit, just keep going.
“People looking from the outside probably thought I was gone, four behind with seven to play but I holed a couple of great putts on 12 and 13 and I knew I was in it then. It's great to have a Rolex Series beside my name now. I get the gold bib and get the star.
“We're very lucky to be able to play such big events on The European Tour and Rolex have done a great job. All the players, I can vouch for them and say we're very grateful to be playing for the types of money we are in the events we're playing in. I'm just over the moon to have won.
“This week the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, HSBC and EGA have done a great job of putting on a huge event for us, and I’m very privileged to be able to play in an event like this, so we as players owe a lot to them.”
At the prize giving, Lowry humbly received his first Falcon Trophy from H.E. Aref Al Awani and was also awarded a unique, traditional Arabic bisht from EGA.
H.E. Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “The 14th edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA has been a huge success and I’d like to pass on my personal congratulations to Shane Lowry. Once again, the standard of golf has been exceptional and befitting of the tournament’s new Rolex Series status.
“I would also like to thank HSBC, EGA and all our sponsors and volunteers for their significant contributions and partnership in putting on an event of the highest quality that reflects Abu Dhabi’s reputation for being a global capital of sport. I look forward to next year’s tournament with much anticipation.”
Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO of HSBC UAE, said: “It’s been an outstanding finale to an extraordinary tournament week and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA has once again delivered one of the elite events in the Middle Eastern sporting calendar. As the first event of the European Tour with the new rules coming into effect, it’s certainly added to the excitement and competition on course.
“HSBC is proud of its longstanding partnership with the tournament and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. Alongside the best in class golf, there is truly something for everyone here, from the HSBC Future Falcons programme to the numerous activities in the Championship Village which creates a unique, family first atmosphere that we are delighted to be part of.”
Walid Al Attar, Chief Marketing Officer at Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), said: “Golf has played an important role in putting the UAE on the global map, spurring tourism as well as improving the quality of life of UAE residents.
“This is why Emirates Global Aluminium has supported the development of world-class golf in the UAE since the early 1990s – it’s another way we can contribute to the development of the UAE which is making modern life possible. We believe the Abu Dhabi HSBC championship presented by EGA is a great event for the Emirate and we are proud to support this edition.”
The accompanying photograph of the presentation of the Falcon Trophy shows Shane Lowry of Ireland (2ndL), celebrates with (L-R) Rolex Global Head of Sponsorship and Partnership, Laurent Delanney, President of Kuwait Football Association, Sheikh Ahmad Al Yousuf Al Sabah, Group General Manager and CEO, HSBC, UAE, Abdulfattah Sharaf, Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, Chief Marketing Officer, Emirates Global Aluminium, Walid Al Attar, and Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi during Day Four of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 19, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
The 14th edition of the tournament, hosted at The Abu Dhabi Golf Club joined the Rolex Series, which features the European Tour’s premium events, staged in a variety of golfing locations around the world, each with a minimum prize fund of US$7million. As in 2017, the Rolex Series comprises eight events, and showcases innovation, enhanced broadcast and digital coverage and world class players.