Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Victor Perez won the Abu Dhabi Championship by one stroke on Sunday to claim the third and biggest European Tour title of his career. The Frenchman’s 6-under 66 in the final round capped off with a bunker shot at No. 17.
Perez smashed his tee shot into a greenside bunker on the 17th hole to take the lead by one. His second shot returned to the cup about 10 feet over the cup, causing Perez to fly out of the sand and hit his caddy in the chest.
“It was probably the best shot I ever hit,” Perez said.
The 30-year-old Perez earned a $1.53 million winner’s check at one of the tour’s top events, which was enough to strengthen his chances. To play for Europe in this year’s Ryder Cup.
He almost broke down in tears when he was told that Perez was second in the Ryder Cup standings and had a great chance to play a match against the United States outside of Rome.
His previous wins on Tour were the 2019 Dunhill Links Championship and the Dutch Open last May.
Perez finished 18-under par in the tournament with Sebastian Soderbergh (67) and Ming Woo Lee (68) in second place.
Lee almost dramatically forced a playoff when his third shot at the par-5 18th hole rolled back and nearly dropped him into the Eagle’s cup.
Lee shared the lead with major winners Shane Lowry and Francesco Molinari after the third round, but both faded out on the back nine at Yas Island Links.
Lowry, in particular, was tied for 28th after struggling with a 76 after finishing a bogey-bogey triple-bogey-bogey.
Fifty-one-year-old Irishman Padraig Harrington was in fourth, two shots behind Perez, after closing out with 67.
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This story was originally published January 22, 2023 at 8:03 am.