Els Eagles 72nd for Dubai Victory


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Ernie Els eagled the 72nd hole to rally from a shot behind to beat Stephen Dodd and Miguel Angel Jimenez for the Dubai Desert Classic title.
With the eagle Els polished off a final-round, 4-under 68 to finish the tournament at 19-under-par 269. Els became the first three-time winner in Dubai, as he also titled here in 1994 and 2002.
Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez
Miguel Angel Jimenez congratulates Ernie Els on his winning eagle putt.
The win could be a good omen for Els in this year's majors. After his win here in 1994, Els claimed the U.S. Open. Then following his 2002 title, Els went on to win the British Open Championship.
Els posted four rounds in the 60s, the first time anyone has done that in Dubai since he turned the trick in 2003. In eight appearances at this event, Els has rung up a cumulative score of 120 under par through 32 rounds.
'Somebody had to win today and I've been close many times this year,' Els said. 'It was great to finally get it my way today. For a long while, it seemed that it was not going to be my week and then the 18th changed everything. I can't remember the last time I won a tournament with an eagle at the last. This is a big win for me.'
Dodd closed with a 6-under 66 to join Jimenez in a tie for second at 18-under-par 270. Jimenez, the second- and third-round leader, managed a 2-under 70 in the final round. European Ryder Cupper Colin Montgomerie finished solo fourth at minus-16 with a 3-under 69 on Sunday.
Jimenez seemed to be in control throughout the round, but Dodd and Els made their moves on the back nine of the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.
Els bogeyed the first to slip two shots behind Jimenez. That deficit was erased at the next as Els birdie the second, while the Spaniard bogeyed the hole. The duo was tied at minus-15, two clear of Dodd.
Jimenez birdied the third to move one ahead of the South African. Els came back with a birdie at the sixth to join Jimenez in the lead again.
Dodd, meanwhile, posted birdies at three, five and seven to get to minus-15 and within one stroke of the leaders.
Jimenez's lead suddenly was two strokes thanks to his birdie at the ninth and Els' bogey at the eighth. Dodd then moved into second with a birdie at the 10th to get to 16 under. Els and Jimenez also birdied the 10th.
The first turning point came at the 13th. Dodd, playing one group ahead of Els and Jimenez, birdied the par-5 to move to 17 under. Els also made birdie, while Jimenez bogeyed the hole to create a three-way tie atop the leaderboard at minus-17.
Jimenez regained the lead by himself with a birdie at the par-3 16th. Dodd tied Jimenez in the lead with a birdie at the par-5 closing hole.
Els came to the last one shot back. He reached the green in two and drained his 22-foot eagle putt to put the pressure on Jimenez. The Spaniard, who also reached the green in two, missed a 6-foot birdie putt and left with a three-putt par to finish one shot behind Els.
'That putt was right up there with the best,' said Els, who won for the 19th time on the European Tour. 'I felt good on that one for some reason, could see the line. It was a great feeling when it went in. I needed a win, I needed to play really well before the Masters and to do it after a three-week break makes me very happy. This was a big win.'
Jimenez, despite the loss, owns five wins and two second-place finishes in the last 15 months on the European Tour.
'It was hard to lose,' said Jimenez. 'It was a nice comeback from Ernie the last two days. But that's the game of golf. Someone has to finish first, second, third and fourth.'
Gregory Havret posted a 4-under 68 in the final round to take fifth place at 13-under-par 275.
Lee Westwood, the 1999 runner-up here, finished at minus-12 after a final-round 71. He was joined in a tie for sixth place by Nick Dougherty (68) and Robert Karlsson (69). David Howell, the 1999 champion, was one stroke further back at 11-under-par 277 alongside Soren Kjeldsen.
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