Thomas Pieters became the first Belgian to win a Rolex Series event after outlasting a star-studded field with a superb display of poise and composure to claim the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title.
In the opening Rolex Series tournament of the DP World Tour era, the former Ryder Cup player was calmness personified while the others fell away in the challenging breezy conditions at Yas Links.
A birdie at the eighth hole moved him three shots clear but Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Shubhankar Sharma were among the many stars to move in and back out of contention at various points during a thrilling final day.
“I’m happy I can finally get Adam a gold bib (for Rolex Series winners),” said Pieters. “We’ve been talking about this for years. It’s fantastic. I was well in control of my ball all day and putting maybe wasn’t there but early on I felt really confident.
“I feel like I’ve turned the corner and playing really good golf. My putting has improved massively and I felt like that’s the thing that really kept me going on the weekend.”
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) January 23, 2022
Pieters dropped just a single shot thereafter, at the par five 11th, and signed for a level par 72 and a ten under total, leaving the 30-year-old one clear of India’s Sharma and Spaniard Cabrera Bello and earning him a sixth victory on the Tour.
That elevated him to the top of the 2022 DP World Tour Rankings and moved him firmly back into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since April 2018.
Norway’s Viktor Hovland shared fourth place with another former Ryder Cup player, France’s Victor Dubuisson, while last year’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Champion Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter were a shot further back in tied sixth, alongside James Morrison and Denmark’s Jeff Winther.