- Turkish Airlines Open
Dubuisson wins first European Tour title
Anyone who doubted Tiger Woods's appearance in Turkey was not value for money at $3 million should have witnessed the impact the world No.1 had at the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open.
Woods stopped the traffic in Europe and Asia by hitting balls across the Bosphorus Bridge upon his arrival, brought Tiger-mania to the Montgomerie course at the Maxx Royal Resort and made a trademark back nine surge in the final round that had the thousands following their hero believe he might actually just win.
Woods rattled off four birdies in five holes to get within two shots of the lead but 23-year-old Frenchman Victor Dubuisson managed to keep his neck out in front and didn't lose his head to claim the £725,000 first prize for his first ever victory.
His six-shot overnight lead was erased as he played every hole of the front nine in par but he birdied three of the last four to finish at 24-under par, four shots ahead of Woods and Justin Rose and two ahead of Wales's Jamie Donaldson. Ian Poulter finished at 19-under par and Henrik Stenson one shot further back.
Rose and Poulter have closed the gap on Race to Dubai leader Stenson setting up a duel in the desert next week for the $1 million bonus for the winner of the European Tour's money list.
"I enjoyed it," Woods said of his visit to Turkey. "Just had to be so aggressive all the time and make a lot of birdies. I said 20-plus was going to win. It ended up that way."
Rose came roaring out of the grid playing the front nine in just 29 shots. He started the day eight shots behind Dubuisson but took a share of the lead with a birdie at the 16th. But he bogeyed the last for a 65.
"I looked at the leaderboard and saw it was all to play for," Rose said. "It was fun to have a run at it. I was fifth last week and third this week. I like the way that's trending to be No.1 next week."
There was consolation for runner-up Donaldson in that his hole in one at the 16th won him a million Turkish Airlines air miles.
Poulter was in a hurry to jet out of town and was in little mood for post-round post-mortem chat after a three-under par 69.
"Twenty putts on the back nine is not going to get it done," Poulter said. "I don't expect to finish fifth when I'm in the last group. Just a bit sour at the moment. Hats off to Victor. It's a great first win."
As for the Race to Dubai?
"[It's] all to play for next week," Poulter said. "It's going to be an exciting finale. But I need to win to take care of it."
Stenson was another big name who failed to chase down the runaway Frenchman. But his thoughts we already turning to next week as he hopes to hang on to his lead in the Race to Dubai and add that title to the $10m bonus he banked for winning the FedEx Cup, the equivalent end-of-season bonanza on the US PGA Tour. But his injured right wrist is still causing him trouble.
"I feel like I've left a tonne of chances out there," Stenson said. "If it gets a whole lot worse there is a chance I might not play. I might pull out of the pro-am and just play nine holes of practice. I know the course pretty well. I'm in desperate need of rest."
Woods signed autographs for a few minutes, which he did after every round here, and headed off in a buggy to the sound of children screaming his name. They would love to see him return. Woods said he didn't know yet if he would be back next year but a Turkish Airlines official said he probably would.
The chequebook is clearly open and Woods has been in chipper mood all week. It has been good business for all. Woods reflected on his year and looked forward to 2014.
"Some of you guys were saying I would never win again," Woods said with a grin. "Very happy with my progress. I've got five more wins since last year. Next year is a really good one for the majors."
He has won at three of the courses: Hoylake (the Open), Augusta (the Masters) and Valhalla (US PGA Championship).
"I've had a third and a second at Pinehurst," Woods said of the US Open venue. "Hopefully that will continue to a first."
There were no exclusive words in Turkey by Woods for the Golf Channel who were snubbed by the world No.1. Their analyst Brandel Chamblee's apology for calling Tiger a cheat has clearly not been accepted.
But last word to Victor, the victor: "I don't realise I have just won such a big tournament. Tiger, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose were all in contention with me so it's a really great feeling and I'm really proud of what I did because it was the toughest golf day of my life."
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