ENGLISH journeyman Robert Rock defied reputation and history to pip former World No1 Tiger Woods and claim only his second professional title at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
Rock, ranked 117th on the planet before this triumph, survived a final-hole bogey to finish on 13 under par, one shot ahead of US Open champion Rory McIlroy, and record the biggest win of his career.
Woods, who started the day equal with Rock, missed the chance to inject more momentum into his comeback with back-to-back victories, carding a level-par 72 to finish tied for third, another stroke behind McIlroy.
Success in his 227th European Tour event lifted Rock into the world’s top 60, earned him the 34-year-old a cheque for £290,000 – and confounded the Englishman’s own modest expectations.
“I really can’t believe I have done that today,” he said. “I was just very happy to be playing with Tiger. That’s a special honour in itself. Early on I was very nervous but I hit some good shots and then I began to think: ‘Why not?’”
Woods, who tied with McIlroy’s fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell and Dane Thomas Bjorn, failed to win a tournament having led or shared the lead going into the final round for only the ninth time in his career.
The 14-time Major winner admitted engineering his own downfall, having located only one fairway on the back nine and just six greens in regulation on his closing round.
McIlroy, runner up for the second year running, was left to count the cost of a two-shot penalty for brushing sand off the green during the second round.