Tuesday, November 5th, 2019
Victor Dubuisson birdied three of his final four holes to claim a second Turkish Airlines Open title as The Final Series got off to a dramatic start in Antalya.
Jaco Van Zyl held a one shot lead as he stood on the 17th tee and appeared to be on course for a wire-to-wire victory and a first European Tour title at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal.
But, in a repeat of his 2013 triumph, Dubuisson birdied the final two holes to get to 22 under and beat Van Zyl by one shot.
The victory left the Frenchman in tears on the 18th green as he picked up his second European Tour victory and moved up to seventh in The Race to Dubai.
Dubuisson had just two top tens coming into this week and the Ryder Cup star admits he has suffered from a crisis of confidence this year.
"It's so hard because there were so many personal reasons why I didn't play that much this year," he said. "It's not because I didn't want to play.
"I was really counting on this Final Series to give me some confidence back because I completely lost it a few months ago. I was just missing everything.
Sometimes you feel like your game is never going to come back and this week I realised that my whole game was here - Victor Dubuisson
"Then I settled down and it was all about the putting."
Kiradech Aphibarnrat had held the lead during the final day but finished two shots behind the winner with Byeong-hun An a further shot back on 19 under.
Chris Wood finished five shots behind the winner with Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy a further shot back after firing a 71 as his final round challenge failed to materialise.
Conditions were perfect once again and every member of the final two groups made a birdie on the par five first except for McIlroy who slipped two behind overnight leaders Dubuisson and Van Zyl and one behind Aphibarnrat.
Dubuisson made it two birdies out of two on the second to move out in front on his own but Aphibarnrat also picked up a shot courtesy of a lengthy putt to stay within one of the leader.
McIlroy joined the party on the third as he put a wedge in close to move to 16 under and An also picked up a stroke to sit a further shot back.
Aphibarnrat holed from eight feet to make it three birdies to start but this time Dubuisson could not follow him in and the Thai was in a share of the lead at 18 under.
McIlroy gave himself an eagle putt on the fourth but had to settle for a birdie with playing partners An and Wood also picking up shots after just clearing the water.
A fourth consecutive birdie was to follow for Aphibarnrat but Dubuisson and Van Zyl followed him in for gains as the final two groups continued to prosper.
Dubuisson went through the back of the green on the fifth and had to go back to the tee, resulting in a double bogey which put Aphibarnrat out in front on his own.
He did not have the sole lead for long, though, as Van Zyl chipped in brilliantly from the back of the sixth green to get to 19 under before An got within two with a birdie ahead at the seventh.
A poor chip on the eighth led to McIlroy dropping his first shot of the day and when Aphibarnrat made a bogey back on the seventh after finding two bunkers, Van Zyl had the lead on his own.
Dubuisson also dropped a shot on the seventh to fall three shots off the lead but that gap was then reduced to two after a Van Zyl bogey on the eighth.
McIlroy made it back-to-back bogeys to turn in 35 but the leading group had no such trouble on the ninth with all three players picking up birdies after stunning approach shots.
Aphibarnrat birdied the tenth to become the first man to 20 under and Dubuisson made a remarkable par save after taking a drop and chipping out through the trees to five feet.
An pitched in for an eagle on the 11th to get within two shots of the lead and Dubuisson showed yet more brilliant short play to follow suit from just off the green and join Van Zyl at 19 under.
An then bogeyed the 12th and when McIlroy did the same, his chances were gone.
A birdie on the 13th got Van Zyl back into a share of the lead and when he followed it with another on the next, it looked like the momentum was with him down the stretch.
But Dubuisson made a nervy putt on the 15th to get within one of the lead and then holed from 12 feet on the 17th to get into a share going up the last.
And the 25 year old held his nerve to hit an enormous drive and a brilliant approach to eight feet, with two putts enough to win it as Van Zyl made par.
I love this place. The way I played today was just great, especially after the mistake I made on number five - Victor Dubuisson
"I tried to set my mind in place again and I just did really well on the back nine.
"On number ten it was almost an impossible situation. I knew I could use the break after the hole to make it come back a little bit. And I made a great chip and a very important putt.
"At this time of the tournament, every shot is very, very important.
"We have three par fives on the back nine, and I was really counting on those. And to chip it in was really the bonus of today. The ball arrived really softly in the hole. I would have made birdie but this eagle was just amazing and it arrived at the best time."
Aphibarnrat parred his final eight holes but would have had a share of second had he not missed a putt for birdie from inside a foot on the 18th.
An picked up two birdies in his last three holes to claim third place on his own while Wood came home in 33 for a 68 which contained an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys.
McIlroy recovered from that bogey on the 12th with birdies on the 13th and 15th but the Northern Irishman struggled to get any momentum on Sunday as he finished in a share of sixth alongside Peter Uihlein.
Shane Lowry was then on 15 under with Lee Slattery a further shot back and Andrew Johnston alone in tenth on 13 under.
Rafel Cabrera-Bello, Jamie Donaldson, Søren Kjeldsen, Lee Westwood and Danny Willett were then all at 12 under.
Graeme Storm was back at nine under but he enjoyed the round of the day with nine birdies in an unblemished 63.