Willett holds nerve to win Omega Dubai Desert Classic

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Danny Willett drained a nerve-jangling 15-foot birdie putt on the closing hole to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in a dramatic finish at Emirates Golf Club on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Englishman, one in front overnight, closed with a 69 to reach 19-under for the tournament, one clear of his compatriot Andy Sullivan and Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello for his fourth victory in 192 starts on the European Tour since turning professional in 2008.

"I'm ecstatic. You can't buy that feeling, coming down the back nine, the last three holes, in contention in a golf tournament. It's something that you can't pay for in life. You've got to earn it," said Willett after receiving the winner's trophy from Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

A tense drama unfolded on the final hole as Cabrera-Bello, the 2012 champion here, birdied the last and Sullivan walked away with a birdie-birdie finish, both reaching 18-under which meant Willett needed to make his birdie which he dully did to avoid going into a three-way playoff.

"Coming down the last with all the situations that were going on. It's just nice to know that I can dig deep there and produce," said Willett, who received a cheque for $441,660 for his week's work.

"You'd love to win by five or six every time you win, but when you win in that fashion, it does feel that little bit extra special. It's a relatively daunting last hole. I needed to make a four to win. So I'm just delighted with how I dug deep and found it," said the Englishman, who was making his seventh appearance in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy excited crowds with a birdie-filled final round, but his brave Sunday charge fell short of his intended target as he finished in a tie for sixth on 15-under after a final round 65.

"All in all, it was a decent weekend and decent way to play the last 27 holes, anyway. My game feels in decent shape. Still a few things to work on as I am struggling with the driver a little bit, so just want to try and work on that," he added.

For Sullivan, meanwhile, it is the second consecutive tournament in Dubai where he has been edged out, after finishing second to McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai in November.

It is the second week in succession that Cabrera-Bello, winner here in 2012, has finished in a share of second and makes it three top 15 finishes on the 2016 Desert Swing for the Spaniard.

Willett and Sullivan had been battling it out throughout the day, with the latter taking a one-shot lead early as he got off to a brilliant start with birdies on the second and fourth.

But Willett found his rhythm, and when he made a birdie on the par three seventh, his lead was up to three shots and he looked to be cruising to the title.

The lead was cut to one by the turn but back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th had it back at three before a bogey on the 14th, coupled with a Sullivan birdie on the next, tightened things up again.

Cabrera-Bello had turned in level par but birdied the 13th and when he made another on the 17th, he was just a shot off the lead.

Sullivan showed great heart with a 12-foot putt on the last for birdie to join Willett at 18 under and, when Cabrera-Bello also birdied the last, the stage was set for Willett to roll in his putt for a brilliant victory.

Byeong-hun An and 2011 champion Alvaro Quiros both finished with rounds of 65 to sit three behind the winner at 16 under, while McIlroy was a further shot back after a 65 of his own, alongside Henrik Stenson.

The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, JA Resorts and Hotels, Mercedes-Benz and wasl, while Dubai Duty Free, Neocasa Interiors and Motivate Publishing are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.