By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - Defending champion Henrik Stenson retained the $8 million DP World Tour Championship on Sunday, carding a final-round 70 to finish two shots clear of the field and cement his status as Europe’s number two golfer.
Overnight leaders Stenson and Rafael Cabrera-Bello started the final round on 14-under, three strokes clear of England’s Justin Rose, with four players including world number one Rory McIlroy a stroke further back.
As the turn approached on the final round, Swede Stenson and Spaniard Cabrera-Bello had pulled a further stroke ahead and it seemed it would be a straight shoot-put between the pair before nerves got the better of them both.
Stenson bogeyed the eighth and dropped two more shots at the 11th after shanking an iron out of bounds as Cabrera-Bello, ranked 104th in the world, led with three holes to play despite a bogey at the 12th.
The lanky right-hander, dressed in a red shirt like that of the Spanish soccer team, plays golf that veers between the brilliant and the lamentable.
His flaws became apparent as he found water at 16 and 17, dropping four shots to slip off the leaderboard on another sweltering desert day.
McIlroy and Rose, almost unnoticed, had closed to 14-under to tie with Stenson, but the player his rivals refer to as ‘Ice Man’ landed his tee-shot on the par-three 17th to within a foot of the pin.
He converted that birdie for 15-under and birdied the 18th to end on 272 to clinch the $1.33 million first prize.
Northern Ireland's McIlroy (68), Rose (69) and France’s Victor Dubuisson (68) were joint second on 274.
Stenson’s win also put him second on Europe’s money list –- McIlroy was crowned champion last week -– and he will earn a further $800,000 from a $5 million bonus pool shared among the European Tour’s top 15 players.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)