Danny Willett wins in Dubai, Francesco Molinari crowned king of European Tour

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Danny Willett of England holds the DP World Tour trophy following victory in the final round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. (AFP)
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Danny Willett of England plays a shot during the final round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates golf course in Dubai. (AFP)
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Francesco Molinari of Italy poses with the Race to Dubai trophy following the final round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. (AFP)
Updated 18 November 2018
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Danny Willett wins in Dubai, Francesco Molinari crowned king of European Tour

DUBAI: Danny Willett ended his title drought in thrilling fashion, winning the DP World Tour Championship by two shots despite a last-hole blunder on Sunday.
It was the 31-year-old Englishman’s first victory since the 2016 Masters, secured with a final-round 4-under-par 68 for an 18-under total of 270.
Francesco Molinari finished in joint 26th place to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
Willett held a two-shot lead on the 18th tee after making a birdie on the 17th, but pushed his tee shot slightly into the bank of a creek that divides the 18th fairway, and then hit a brave second shot from the rocks before making par.
England’s Matt Wallace (68) and American Patrick Reed (70) were joint runners-up at 16-under 272.
A poor second shot from Reed on the first had handed Willett the lead and when the 31-year-old holed a brilliant 45-foot double-breaker for eagle on the par-five second, he was three ahead.
Wallace also birdied the second but gave the shot straight back with a three-putt on the third before making a gain from five feet at the fifth.
Willett then took advantage of the par-five seventh to turn at 17-under, five shots clear of Reed — who had also bogeyed the eighth — and three ahead of Wallace, who made a gain on the ninth after chipping in for par on the eighth.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” said an emotional Willett. “It’s been tough. I’m just massively proud of myself and everyone that’s been around me.
“You never quite know when a win is around the corner and with all the things that have happened, I was never quite sure if it was going to happen again.
“To happen here at the end of year, we’ve battled long and hard through this season to come out at
the end, regardless of what happened today, a better person and a better athlete. It’s a special place. It’s just nice to be back.
“I’ve started pretty slowly on the first four or five holes all week — but I got off to a quick one today. For that to happen on a Sunday in the position I was in, I knew I was in a good place.”
Molinari, winner of the Open Championship and the BMW PGA Championship this year, secured the season-ending title when his closest rival Tommy Fleetwood failed to win the tournament.
“It’s more than I ever dreamed of achieving,” said 36-year-old Molinari.
“I’m really struggling for words.
“I’ve seen guys that I think are better players than me not winning majors and not winning Order of Merits or Race to Dubai. To achieve those things in one single season is just incredible.”
Meanwhile, Fleetwood was in a philosophical mood.
“It’s just golf, but it does hurt when you have days like that,” he said of his Saturday round.
“I feel the adrenaline might have gone. You kind of know when your time’s up. I lasted within two days of the season and it was always a stretch trying to win it.”


Simona Halep positive despite Dubai defeat by Belinda Bencic

Updated 21 February 2019
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Simona Halep positive despite Dubai defeat by Belinda Bencic

  • Former world No.1 blames three-set loss on tiredness after nine matches in 13 days.
  • Halep has high hopes for the rest of 2019, saying her game is in good shape.

LONDON: Simona Halep is still certain a good year lies in store for her despite losing to Belinda Bencic in the Dubai quarterfinals.
The Romanian former world No. 1 was the favorite to win her second title in the emirate but ran out of steam as her Swiss opponent ran out 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 winner.
It was Halep’s ninth match in just 13 days and she admitted tiredness had caught up with her.
“It was really difficult physically. I was tired,” the world No. 2 said.

Bencic came from a set down to beat the favorite in the last-eight encounter in Dubai. (AFP) 


“After the second set, I felt like I’m getting cramping a little bit. It’s normal. I was sweating a lot.”
While, her fatigue was clear for all to see, Halep was not using it as an excuse, admitting Bencic, who has now beaten her in two of their three matches, was the deserved winner.
“Yeah, she played well. She played very well. In the end, she was a little bit stronger,” the Romanian said.
Having lost in the Qatar final last weekend and failed to make the last-four in Dubai you might think Halep would be disappointed with her Middle East stint. She was, however, far from glum and revealed she is looking forward to landing more titles to add to her collection during the rest of the year.

Cheerio from Halep after her defeat to the Swiss. (AFP) 


“I think were three good weeks. Tough weeks. A lot of tension, a lot of pressure. Also the Fed Cup,” she said.
“I take only positive things. I had great matches. My level is good. Physically also I’m good. But day by day I had to play, so is not easy.
“I’m confident for the next tournaments.”