France's Stal seals unlikely Abu Dhabi win after Kaymer capitulates

Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:35am EST
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By Matt Smith

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - France’s Gary Stal dispatched a final round 65 to snatch an unlikely victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Sunday as overnight leader Martin Kaymer blew a mid-round 10 stroke lead.

Stal, ranked 357th in the world, earned a first European Tour victory and a check for $450,000 after a stunning turnaround on the National course.

His captured the win with a total of 19 under 269, ahead of world number one Rory McIlroy (66), who ended on 270, and Kaymer (75) on 271.

“I played very good today and I’m very happy to win,” Stal, 22, told reporters. “When I saw my name on the leader board I thought “it’s possible, so take that chance and go get it”.”

Stal’s previous best Tour performance was fifth at last week’s South Africa’s Open, a result he said gave him confidence to excel in Abu Dhabi.

“I will celebrate with my friends and my dad,” Stal added.

For U.S. Open champion Kaymer, Sunday’s capitulation must rank among the 30-year-old’s worst days in golf.

Starting six strokes clear of Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, the German’s unlikely nearest challenger, he sunk three birdies in the opening four holes to move to 23-under, one adrift of the event record he set in winning the Falcon Trophy in 2011.   Continued...

Gary Stal of France kisses his trophy after he won the Abu Dhabi Golf championship, January 18, 2015.     REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah