Quiros’ ace trumps stars

ALVARO QUIROS claimed the biggest scalps of his career, Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood included, to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic yesterday – and a hole-in-one helped him do it.

The big-hitting Spaniard aced the 161-yard 11th with a “three-quarter wedge”, but still had it all to do when he trailed Dane Anders Hansen by a stroke entering the closing stretch.

Then came a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th before two pars gave Quiros his fifth European Tour title after Hansen was unable to repair the damage of a bogey on the short 15th.

“It was the perfect shot,” said the 28-year-old of his ace. “Once a year it happens.”

Quiros, runner-up to Thomas Bjorn in Qatar last week, overcame a triple bogey on the eighth – his ball was stuck up a tree there – and a right-arm strain to fire a four-under-par 68 and win by one at 11-under from Hansen and South African James Kingston.

But as he went to celebrate, he left the tournament’s biggest stars to reflect on where it all went horribly wrong.

Woods, without a victory for almost 15 months, was only two shots back with seven to play, but by the time he dumped his pitch to the last into the lake and took a double-bogey seven he was down in 20th spot.

That is the second-worst finish the former world number one has ever had in a regular European Tour event since he turned professional – and his 75 is his worst score on the circuit outside the majors and world championships since he left the amateur ranks.

Westwood stays as world number one because Martin Kaymer, needing a top-two finish, was down at 31st, but the Englishman’s own 15th place was a big disappointment after being only one behind with four holes remaining.

The English golfer did the same as Quiros by hitting a ball into a tree on the 17th, double-bogeyed and then was in the water on the last in an attempt to find the green in two. That led to another six.

As for long-time leader Rory McIlroy, whose only European Tour title came on the same course two years ago, he followed his opening rounds of 65 and 68 with 75-74 to end up only joint 10th.

And then there was Sergio Garcia. Playing with Woods, he had real hopes of his first win since November 2008 when he moved into a share of the lead with a 35-foot putt on the first.

But the ex-world number two showed why he is now down at 79th after running up a triple-bogey seven on the ninth and never getting back in the hunt. A 75 left him alongside Woods and he has now failed to be among the 64 qualifiers for this month’s Accenture Match Play, the world championship event in which he reached the semi-finals last year.

The spotlight turned onto another Spaniard instead and Quiros, whose power enabled him to eagle the 351-yard second, did not disappoint.

His two closest pursuers both had long birdie chances on the last to force a play-off, but Kingston lipped out from 30 feet and Hansen missed from 40.

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