Westwood Wins in the Desert, Kucher Takes Singapore

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood wins the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (Supplied)

Lee Westwood produced a brilliant display of front running to win his second Rolex Series title at the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this weekend while Matt Kuchar fought back from a triple bogey and held off a strong charge from former world number one Justin Rose down the stretch to win the SMBC Singapore Open.

Westwood entered the final day in the desert with a one-shot lead and, while he was briefly caught, he was never passed, carding a 67 to get to 19 under and finish two shots ahead of countrymen Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood, and Frenchman Victor Perez.

Fleetwood – a two-time winner at this event – carded a 63 for his lowest round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on his 29th birthday, while Perez matched him for the lowest round of his European Tour career.

Westwood’s last European Tour win was at the 2018 Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player so an emotional Westwood admitted in Sun City that he had feared his days in the winner’s circle may have been over.

“I can’t believe I’m that old,” he said, showing emotion again as it dawned on him that he had won in the 90s, 00s, 10s and 20s. “It’s getting harder.

“It’s just nice to come out and keep proving that you’ve still got it.

“I won my first tournament in 1996 in Sweden. I won that tournament in three different decades and now won here this week. The 20s could be the ones for me.”

Kiwi Ryan Fox failed to make the cut finishing 1-over after two rounds of 74 and 72.

Matt Kuchar
Matt Kuchar with the MBC Singapore Open trophy. (Supplied)

Grandstand Finish for Kuchar

In Singapore, Kuchar, the world number 24, regrouped after his travails at the par-five seventh and staged a grandstand finish with birdies at the 16th and 18th to card a 70 for a three-stroke victory over Rose, who picked up four shots on the back nine to sign for a closing 67.

With chants of ‘Kooch’ resounding around the 18th green, the American regaled in his 18 under 266 winning total on his debut appearance at Sentosa Golf Club.

“I sure am (happy that I got the job done),” said Kuchar, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour who played two tournaments in Hawaii at the start of 2020.

“It was a thrill to be out there. It turned out to be quite a competition, much more of a competition than I was thinking it was going to be.

“I was playing so well this week and so (wanting) to finish this thing off, to make the turn and play a great back nine. And I closed it out with some strong holes, a birdie on 16 and a birdie on 18 – it was a real thrill.”

Defending champion Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand, who was bidding to emulate Adam Scott of Australia by retaining the SMBC Singapore Open crown, caught up with Kuchar at the halfway mark but could not sustain his challenge on the back nine and his closing even-par 71 saw him finish third, four back of the winner.

New Zealand’s own Mike Hendry finished tied for 102nd with 5-over after being cut following day 2.

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