Victor Perez won the Abu Dhabi Championship by one stroke on Sunday for the third and biggest European tour title of his career, with the Frenchman’s 6-under 66 in the final round capped by holing a bunker shot at No. 17.
Perez led by one when he sent his tee shot on the 17th hole short and into a greenside bunker. His second shot went about 10 feet beyond the cup and span back into it, leading to Perez leaping out of the sand and chest-bumping his caddie.
“It was probably the greatest shot I’ve ever hit,” Perez said.
A bogey at the last — when he drove into a bunker and hit his second shot nearly into water — was enough for the 30-year-old Perez to claim a winner’s check of $1.53 million at one of the tour’s top events and strengthen his chances of playing for Europe at this year’s Ryder Cup.
When it was put to Perez that he is second in the Ryder Cup standings and in with a great chance of making the contest against the United States outside Rome, he was almost brought to tears.
His previous wins on the tour came at the Dunhill Links Championship in 2019 and the Dutch Open in May last year.
Perez finished on 18 under par for the tournament, with Sebastian Soderberg (67) and Min Woo Lee (68) tied for second place.
Lee almost dramatically forced a playoff when his third shot at the par-5 18th rolled back and nearly dropped into the cup for eagle.
Lee was in a share of the lead after the third round with major winners Shane Lowry and Francesco Molinari but they both faded in the back nine at Yas Island Links.
Lowry, in particular, struggled to a 76 after finishing bogey-bogey-triple bogey-bogey, and was in a tie for 28th.
Padraig Harrington, a 51-year-old Irishman, was alone in fourth place — two shots behind Perez — after a closing 67.