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Monday 18 December 2017

Desert winner heads to Arizona as Rory falls

THE best day of Spanish golfer Rafael Cabrera-Bello's career got even better late last night.

Hours after beating three of the world's top four to win the Dubai Desert Classic, the Canary Islander qualified for his first world championship.

Cabrera-Bello, who defeated Lee Westwood and Scot Stephen Gallacher by a shot, rose from 119th into the top 64 who will contest next week's Accenture Match Play in Arizona.

"This was the quality jump I was looking for in my game and it's offered me the opportunity to play with the world's best players," said the 27-year-old, whose only previous European Tour win came in the low-key Austrian Open three years ago.

He achieved that with a Tour record-equalling closing round of 60. At The Emirates, a bogey-free 68 gave him the title as Westwood failed to hang onto the lead he held for most of the final day.

Second place in the event for the third time in his career was still good enough, though, to take Westwood back to second in the world rankings -- by 0.004 points from Rory McIlroy, who came joint fifth.

The two stars had much to ponder at the end of the circuit's three-week Middle East swing.

McIlroy lost by one to England's Robert Rock in Abu Dhabi after a two-shot penalty in the second round for brushing sand away that was not on the green.

"I'm a little disappointed considering the position I was in going into the weekend, but I can't be that disappointed," said Northern Ireland's US Open champion. "I'm pleased with how I hit the ball and that's very positive to take into the next few weeks."

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