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Dublin: 8°C Friday 23 October 2020

McIlroy just misses out on extraordinary final day in Abu Dhabi

22-year-old Frenchman Gary Stal stepped in to win as Martin Kaymer threw away a 10 shot lead.

It's Stal's first victory on the European Tour.
It's Stal's first victory on the European Tour.

GARY STAL HELD his nerve to claim his first European Tour victory at the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi today after Martin Kaymer blew a 10 shot lead.

Despite a final round 66 Rory McIlroy missed out by one shot, despite starting the day eight shots behind.

Going into the day with a six shot lead it looked like it would be a formality for two-time major champion Kaymer.

Indeed the foregone conclusion looked even more so after four holes when the German made three birdies to get to -23, giving him a huge 10 shot lead.

Meanwhile it had been a slower start from McIlroy who didn’t really get going until a run of three consecutive birdies around the turn.

It was those birdies that would bring the Holywood man back into it as Kaymer capitulated.

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A double bogey on the ninth followed by a triple bogey on the 13th sent the 30-year-old into free-fall.

His lead was to disappear as Stal birdied the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th to climb to the top of the leaderboard.

And the young Frenchman, twice a winner on the Challenge Tour, would not let that lead slip as he held his nerve, while playing some stellar golf, to cruise to victory.

McIlroy birdied the 15th to give himself a chance but a stray second shot on the 18th saw him needing to hole out from the greenside bunker to force a playoff. Although he came very close it wasn’t to be.

Stal held it together to make a par on the final green, enough to clinch the trophy on an unbelievable Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

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