Danny Willett in Ryder Cup frame after victory in Dubai

England’s Danny Willett set his sights on a place in the Ryder Cup after holding his nerve to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and take a massive step towards a place in the world’s top 10.

Danny Willett in Ryder Cup frame after victory in Dubai

Willett holed from 15 feet for a birdie on the 18th to card a closing 69 and finish 19 under par, one shot ahead of compatriot Andy Sullivan and playing partner Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

Sullivan had also birdied the last in the group ahead to temporarily join Willett at the top of the leaderboard, before Cabrera-Bello narrowly missed a long eagle attempt on 18 and tapped in for birdie to also finish 18 under.

Spain’s Alvaro Quiros and Korea’s Byeong Hun An shared fourth on 16 under after rounds of 65, with defending champion Rory McIlroy another shot back alongside Henrik Stenson after also closing with a 65.

“I’m just ecstatic,” said Willett, who revealed his celebrations would be somewhat curtailed by a 3am flight home to be with his pregnant wife Nicole. “You can’t buy that feeling, down the back nine, the last three holes, in contention in a golf tournament. You can’t pay for that experience, you’ve got to earn it.

“With all the permutations that were going on as we were coming down the last, with Sully making birdie ahead of us and then Rafa on the green in two, it’s very nice to know that I can dig deep and produce what I can when it is needed the most.”

Willett’s fourth European Tour title moves him from 20th in the world rankings to a provisional career-high of 12th, as well as elevating the 28-year-old to third in the Ryder Cup standings.

McIlroy was left to rue some poor passages of play as he failed to join Ernie Els in winning a third title at Emirates Golf Club, the world number two having said at the start of the week he would be disappointed with anything less than a win.

“It’s sort of a week of what could have been,” said McIlroy, who finished joint third in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago. “There was a lot of really good golf in there. I played a lot of great shots and made a lot of birdies, but just made a few too many mistakes as well.

“I played the combined front nine in five over on Friday and Saturday and if I had not of done that, things could have been different.”

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