Shane Lowry kicked off 2019 with a wire-to-wire victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after coming out on top in a thrilling final-round battle with Richard Sterne.
The Irishman, who opened up the week with a course record-equalling 62, closed his final-round 71 with a crucial birdie to win by a single shot and secure his fourth European Tour title and first Rolex Series title. But he did not have it all his own way.
Lowry entered the final round with a commanding three-shot lead, but found himself four strokes behind Sterne after carded four bogeys and two birdies in his first 11 holes.
The 31 year old rallied, though, firing back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th, and after Sterne dropped a couple of shots coming down the stretch, Lowry made another gain at the 18th to get to 18 under par and clinch his first trophy since the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Dutchman Joost Luiten was alone in third on 15 under, after producing two eagles in his final-round 65, withLouis Oosthuizen a further shot back.
Lowry said: “It was an emotional rollercoaster today. I obviously went out leading by a few, but before I knew it I was four behind. I was brave out there today. I ground it out well and I’m over the moon to have won, and won a Rolex Series event at that. I’m going to really enjoy this one, because you just don’t know when it’s going to happen again.”