Thomas Pieters held his nerve in the final round to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as overnight leader Scott Jamieson and other contenders fell away on Sunday.

The Belgian secured his sixth DP World Tour title with an even round of 72 to end the tournament on 10-under par, one shot ahead of Rafa Cabrera Bello and Shubhankar Sharma.

Pieters began the day tied for second but showed impressive control to card 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey, though was reliant on Cabrera Bello bogeying the 15th and 16th holes to edge ahead of the Spaniard.

Jamieson took a one-shot lead into the final day but produced seven bogeys in a five-over round of 77 to slip down to a joint-10th finish, while Shane Lowry also had a day to forget as he too hit 77 to drop 10 places to joint-12th.

The best rounds of the final day came from Adri Arnaus and Henrik Stenson who both carded seven-under rounds of 65, but both were already too far off the pace to trouble the leaders.

Tyrell Hatton managed a respectable round of 67 to climb to a final position of joint-sixth, while Rory McIlroy ended tied for 12th as his last round of 69 left him on a final score of five-under.

Pieters - who turns 30 next week - becomes the first Belgian to win a Rolex Series event, and hopes that his performance can inspire young golfers in his home country.

"I was well in control of my ball all day," he said after sealing victory. "The putting wasn't maybe there.

"I just hope all the juniors back at home are watching this. I used to watch as a kid and think it was impossible for me but then Nico [Colsaerts] came on the scene and started winning.

"It's stuff like that that inspires kids and hopefully I can do that back home."

Scott Jamieson will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after just about keeping the chasing pack at bay on Saturday.

The Scot was at one stage leapfrogged by Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters as they produced blemish-free rounds of 67 to move to 10 under par.

Jamieson dropped a shot at the 14th but responded with birdies on the next and final holes to finish on 68, putting him at 11 under after three rounds.

Viktor Hovland is three strokes behind, as is Shubhankar Sharma, who followed a double bogey at the sixth with an eagle at the par-five seventh hole as he carded a 67 for the day.

Ian Poulter, James Morrison and Rafa Cabrera-Bello are at seven under, a stroke ahead of Andrea Pavan and Adam Scott, while there is a six-way tie on five under. Rory McIlroy, who just made the cut on Friday, produced his best round of the tournament – a 67 – to move to two under par.

After holding onto his lead under pressure from Friday's windy conditions and the pressure of his rivals in round three, Jamieson is determined to keep his focus as he targets a first European Tour title since winning the Nelson Mandela Championship in a play-off against Eduardo de la Riva and Steve Webster in December 2012.

"It would be massive, a game-changer to win a tournament of this stature," he said. "There's definitely been some great champions here and there's an awful long way to go.

"All I can do is play whatever shot is in front of me – all those cliches, stay in the moment and just try and hit the best shot I can."

Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa faced an overnight wait to learn whether they had made the cut at the windswept Abu Dhabi Championship, as Scott Jamieson clung to first place.

McIlroy made a vital birdie at the par-five 18th to improve his score to three over, having dropped four shots over the previous five holes.

His opening 72 had been way off the pace, and a 75 in the gusting wind could be considered a better result, nudging the four-time major winner up 15 places to a share of 60th position at Yas Links.

Reigning Open champion Morikawa added a 74 to his opening 73 to sit alongside McIlroy, both men hoping there was no surge coming from those left with holes still to play in the second round.

Play was suspended amid fading light on Friday, after the high winds made scoring treacherously difficult.

Jamieson had opened with a 63 on Thursday, but he had two bogeys and a double in his second round, which he started from the 10th tee. Birdies at 11 and eight kept the 38-year-old Scot just ahead of the field after a 74, with Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter and James Morrison all one shot back.

Hovland also shot a 74, Poulter impressed with a 72, while Morrison, level par for the day, had four holes of his round to complete as darkness fell.

Former Open champion Shane Lowry was in a group of four on five under, while Denmark's Jeff Winther was the only player to break 70, his round of 69 featuring five birdies and taking him to four under, in a share of ninth.

In the first DP World Tour event of the year, the drastic change in playing conditions provided a stiff test for all, some former Masters winner Danny Willett was among those who struggled.

His 80, after an opening 72, meant the Yorkshireman could be definitely confirmed as missing the cut on eight over. Only four players scored worse.

The top 65 players and ties are assured of playing the final two rounds, with the second round to resume at 07:30 local time on Saturday (03:30 GMT).

Jamieson, the world number 336, said it "certainly wasn't easy" for the players who had enjoyed conditions suitable for low-scoring on the opening day.

"It's so tricky," he said, quoted on the DP World Tour website. "Obviously hitting shots is tricky with all the gusts, but the hardest thing is putting.

"You get over the ball and you feel like you've got to be so tense to stop everything moving, but that's the worst thing you can do when you're trying to putt.

"I holed a lot of really good putts from inside five feet today which kept my score respectable.

"It's a great test from tee to green, if you want to call it a test, at the mercy of whatever gust you might or might not get."

Scott Jamieson holds a one-shot lead from Viktor Hovland after the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship. 

Jamieson got the first DP World Tour event of the year under way with a brilliant nine-under 63 at the Yas Links course on Thursday.

The Scot was bogey-free through his opening round, hitting the turn in 32 and making another five birdies on the back nine to set the clubhouse target at the DP World Tour's newest venue.

Jamieson started with a birdie and never looked back, fittingly also finishing his excellent round with another gain.

He said in an interview with the DP World Tour: "Eight weeks off from tournament golf, you're always a little bit on edge at the start of the day, but a birdie at the first settled any edge there was and I was just really solid all day.

"One tee shot wasn't very good, but I kind of got lucky and recovered well."

Hovland signed for an eight-under 64 in the opening Rolex Series event of the season, with a bogey five at the 12th the only blemish on the world number seven's card.

The Norwegian had gone out in 31 and finished with a flourish, making three birdies in his final four holes.

World number two Collin Morikawa, winner of the Race to Dubai last year, has work to do following a one-over 73, with Rory McIlroy also having ground to make up at level par.

Thomas Pieters is two shots adrift of Jamieson in third place, while Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton and James Morrison are among a group of five players on six under.

Takumi Kanaya and Victor Perez also started with six-under rounds of 66.

Rory McIlroy wants to follow Tiger Woods' lead as he strives to return to the peak of his powers this season.

It is seven years since McIlroy won the last of his four major titles and he was reduced to tears when frankly stating he "should have done more" to try and prevent Europe from slumping to a record defeat to the United States in the Ryder Cup last September.

McIlroy went on to end 2021 with a flourish, winning the CJ Cup and finishing in a share of sixth in the DP World Tour Championship after holding the lead heading into the final round.

The 32-year-old, who will start his season at the Abu Dhabi Championship this weekend, has outlined his intention to adopt an approach that worked so well for the legendary Woods over the years.

"There are certainly aspects of what he did so well in the past that I would obviously love to put into my game," said the Northern Irishman.

McIlroy is not looking to try match Bryson DeChambeau in the driving department, though.

He added: "No, I don't need to. The goal of hitting more fairways, it maybe means throttling back and hitting three-wood a little more often or hitting clubs that are maybe not as aggressive off tees and just putting yourself in the fairway.

"I'll certainly pick and choose my spots where I can take advantage of the driver and hit it, the best player of the last 30 years, Tiger, he picked and chose where he hit driver and he played a very, very controlled game. It didn't work out too badly for him."

McIlroy revealed he is taking a different approach when setting his goals for the year.

"I used to sit down on the flight here and write down I want to win five times, I want to win a major, I want to win The Race to Dubai, I want to win the FedExCup, I'd love to win six times in a season as I've won five in the past, I want to do this or that," he said.

"And all those things are great goals and they are things to try to work towards. But I think the biggest thing for guys at the level that we're at is I want to hit over 60 per cent of my fairways.

"I want my proximity [to the hole] inside 150 yards to be a certain number. I want my strokes-gained putting to be a certain number. I can't control if I win five or six times a year.

"There's so many other variables in there. I'd rather set goals that are objective and measurable that I'm in control of.

"I can certainly control if I hit 60 per cent of the fairways and I'd love to get my iron play back to where it was a few years ago. I can control if my stats are better than they were the year before."

Sixteen golfers from the United Kingdom and Ireland withdrew from the Joburg Open on Friday as strict new rules affecting travellers from South Africa came into effect.

The emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa has led the UK government to implement a sudden change to its rules for arrivals, taking effect from midday on Friday.

It has declared that British nationals arriving before Sunday morning after a stay in South Africa – as well as Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia – must self-isolate at home for 10 days and take two PCR tests in that time.

All such travellers arriving in England from 04:00 GMT on Sunday will be required to go into a hotel quarantine facility for 10 days.

Flights to the UK from the newly red-listed countries were being suspended.

It was no coincidence that the European Tour event in Johannesburg saw a rash of withdrawals, with players looking to get home.

Those who pulled out were England's Steven Brown, Oliver Fisher, Matt Ford, David Howell, Matthew Jordan, Richard McEvoy, Graeme Storm and Andrew Wilson, Scotland's Craig Howie, Liam Johnston and Richie Ramsay, Wales' Oliver Farr, Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin and Ireland's Paul Dunne and Niall Kearney.

Johnston posted on Twitter a version of a poster for the Meryl Streep film Out Of Africa, with his face superimposed in place of Robert Redford's. Sharvin replied: "Too good."

UK health secretary Sajid Javid said of the new measures: "We are taking precautionary action to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a critical moment as we enter winter, and we are monitoring the situation closely."

Collin Morikawa became the first American to win the Race to Dubai after clinching the DP World Tour Championship title on Sunday.

The 24-year-old entered this week's season finale knowing there were five challengers who could pip him to the European number one crown, although he teed off on Sunday with a three-shot advantage over his nearest rivals.

Morikawa showed few nerves as he produced his best round of the tournament, carding a 66 to finish three strokes ahead of Alexander Bjork and Matt Fitzpatrick at 17 under par.

It capped a memorable 2021 for Morikawa, who has won three titles this year, including the Open Championship in July, having only made his professional debut in August 2019.

"It's special, it's an honour, really, to be the first American to do that on the European Tour to put my name against many, many great Hall of Famers, it's special," he said.

"Two years ago, it wasn't in my thoughts. It was, 'yeah, let's go play around the world' but we didn't know what the cards were going to be dealt.

"To have this chance and finally close it out, and not just closing it out with a top 10 or something, but to actually win the DP World Tour Championship, which concluded with the Race to Dubai, not a better way to finish – what a great way to finish.

"To close out the season-long race, the Race to Dubai, it means everything. Obviously, I won some big events and that obviously helped catapult me up to the top."

Rory McIlroy, who led after the first day at Jumeirah Golf Estates, finished in a tie for sixth with Dean Burmester and Ian Poulter after a final round of 74 left him at 12 under.

The best performance of the day belonged to Bernd Wiesberger, who carded a brilliant 63 to finish on two over after only managing 76, 76 and 75 in the first three rounds.

Rory McIlroy got himself back into the lead at the DP World Tour Championship, holding a slender one-shot advantage heading into the final round of the season.

McIlroy, a three-time European Tour champion, dropped two shots on the 18th on Friday, handing a share of the lead to Sam Horsfield, Shane Lowry and John Catlin in Dubai.

Yet Lowry and Catlin both struck costly one-under par 71s on Saturday, with McIlroy going round in 67 to propel himself back in front.

The Northern Irishman stands on 14 under, though had a wobble on the 17th when he almost found the water. Luck was on his side as the ball nestled on a rock on the water's edge.

McIlory bravely decided to take the shot on, despite the risk the ball could have ricocheted back into the wet. It paid off, with the former world number one getting it across the green and then almost chipping in to make par, but he had to settle for a bogey, his second of the day after an awful tee shot on the opening hole.

He got that shot back with a birdie on the last to put the pressure on Horsfield, who could only bogey to finish on 67 and 13 under for the week heading into what looks set to be an enthralling final day.

"I thought I did well considering the start," said McIlroy, who is hunting his third DP World Tour Championship title.

"I responded well with birdies on two and three, ended up turning on three-under par. The back nine was good, gave myself good chances on 14 and 16 but didn't convert those.

"A bogey on 17 that in the end was a good bogey, I just thought it was important to make birdie at the last to get into the final group."

Robert MacIntyre was the big riser, the Scot going around in five under to take a share of third place with Alexander Bjork. 

MacIntyre's round included a 70-foot birdie and 20-foot eagle on the front nine, while he then birdied four holes out of five only to slip up with a bogey on the 18th.

Level at T5 and within three of the lead with Lowry, Catlin and Joachim Hansen is Collin Morikawa, who still holds a lead in the Race to Dubai rankings.

The 24-year-old - who is aiming to become the first American to win the European Tour – carded a bogey free 69, though will be disappointed to only birdie three holes.

Given none of the other contenders in the Race to Dubai are within six shots of the lead, Morikawa seems all set to be crowned European Tour champion, barring a collapse on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy surrendered a two-shot lead at the DP World Tour Championship, with Shane Lowry one of those to rein him in as Collin Morikawa kept himself at the top of the Race to Dubai standings.

Three-time Race to Dubai winner McIlroy carded a brilliant 65 on Thursday, but he found the water on the last and his double bogey meant he recorded a two-under par 70, giving up the lead heading into the weekend at Jumeirah Golf Estates in the process.

Lowry, the 2019 Open champion, overtook McIlroy at the top of the leaderboard with a bogey-free 65, with American John Catlin left to lament a bogey on the third that ultimately cost him the lead. The duo are joined on 10 under by Sam Horsfield, who followed up Thursday's 68 by going around in 66.

Horsfield had to recover from dropping shots on the 16th and 17th, with a thumping, 369-yard drive setting him up nicely to birdie on the last and take a share of the lead.

"It's two more days left and then the end of a long year-and-a-half, I suppose, long couple of years," said Lowry. 

"I'm looking forward to giving everything and leaving it on the course this weekend and hopefully I'm there near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon."

Meanwhile, history hunting Morikawa kept himself in contention with a second straight score of 68 and sits level on eight-under with Martin Kaymer, one shot adrift of McIlroy and Alexander Bjork, whose sole victory on the European Tour came at the 2018 China Open.

The American currently holds the lead in the Race to Dubai by three shots. If he can hold onto his advantage, he will be the first American to be crowned European Tour champion.

In Morikawa's opinion, however, the best form of defence is attack, as he looks to seal his place in the record books by clinching victory in the United Arab Emirates.

"I'm aware but I've got to focus on the weekend," The Open winner said. "I want to win this tournament. That's all I care about, winning this tournament and everything else will kind of settle itself. 

"That's my focus. We've played a decent two days and we've got two more rounds to go."

Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Tour in 2017, endured a frustrating day as he went round level par, leaving him tied with six others, including Ian Poulter, on two under.

Rory McIlroy leads the season-ending DP World Tour Championship after the opening round, but Race to Dubai frontrunner Collin Morikawa was Thursday's big winner.

A seven-under 65 gave McIlroy a two-stroke advantage at the top of the leaderboard at Jumeirah Golf Estates, with Tapio Pulkkanen, Joachim B. Hansen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a three-way tie behind him.

McIlroy, whose 14th and most recent European Tour win came at the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2019, made a flying birdie-eagle start and only dropped a single shot all day at the ninth.

After turning in 31, the Northern Irishman protected his day-one advantage over a steady back nine.

McIlroy, who beat Morikawa at the CJ Cup last month, believes he has "got [his] golf game back" since contributing only a single point to Europe's Ryder Cup defeat.

"I'm just excited for the road ahead, because I feel like I'm on the right path," he said.

But the main focus this week is on the Race to Dubai, in which McIlroy is 20th and out of the running.

First-placed Morikawa has competition chiefly from fellow American Billy Horschel this week following Jon Rahm's withdrawal, although four other players could also yet scoop the seasonal title with 2,000 points on the line in Dubai.

Of the six contenders, Morikawa is best placed heading into Friday after his four-under 68 secured a share of fifth.

Crucially, Horschel endured a difficult start as three bogeys across four holes on the back nine set him back and he carded a two-over 74 – a hugely damaging deficit given his need to outperform Morikawa.

Rounds of 70 for Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey kept the English trio in the mix, although each need to win and see Morikawa struggle. Min Woo Lee, the sixth man in contention, has work to do from even par.

Collin Morikawa has been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the European Tour ahead of this week's season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Morikawa becomes only the fifth American to be given the accolade after Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Patrick Reed.

The 24-year-old has been given the honour in recognition of his debut victory at The Open at Royal St Georges in July.

His two-shot victory over Jordan Spieth at Sandwich was the second time he had won a Major Championship on debut after also lifting the 2020 US PGA Championship in San Francisco.

Morikawa told the European Tour's official website: "Two and a half years ago when I turned pro, I had no clue what life was going to put in front of me, but I'm very thankful for what I've been able to accomplish.

"We want to grow the game as much as we can, and this is an important piece of that. So I'm going to honour this and this is going to be very special and it is definitely a top highlight so far since turning pro, so thank you."

Morikawa goes into the season finale as leader of the European Tour's Race to Dubai, and is hoping to become the first American to win it.

There will be no Race to Dubai triumph for Jon Rahm after the world number one withdrew from the DP World Tour Championship.

Rahm is third in the battle to be crowned European number one, but has opted against travelling to Dubai for the season-ending event at Jumeirah Golf Estates next week.

The Spaniard won the Race to Dubai in 2019 and has been victorious in the DP World Tour Championship twice, but there will be no repeat next Sunday.

Collin Morikawa leads the Race to Dubai standings ahead of fellow American Billy Horschel ahead of the finale in the United Arab Emirates.

Rahm said: "After lengthy discussions with my team, I have come to the difficult decision not to travel to Dubai next week.

"The demands of a long season with many ups and downs has taken a lot out of me. I feel I need to take time to recharge my batteries while spending quality time with my family.

"I would like to take this opportunity to wish DP World and the European Tour all the best for the season-ending event, which is always such a special tournament.

"I would also like to reiterate my congratulations to both for the announcement of the DP World Tour [the rebranded European Tour] earlier this week, and I look forward very much to competing on the DP World Tour next year."

Rahm claimed his maiden major title at the U.S. Open this year.

Rory McIlroy has opted to work solely with long-time coach Michael Bannon once again after splitting with Pete Cowen.

McIlroy turned to swing guru and straight-talking Englishman Cowen eight months ago as he strived to return to the peak of his powers.

The four-time major champion ended an 18-month trophy drought when he won the Wells Fargo Championship in May and claimed his 20th PGA Tour title with a CJ Cup triumph last month.

McIlroy has now decided to only work with Bannon, who first coached his fellow Northern Irishman at the age of eight.

"Michael and I are back working together," McIlroy told Golfweek.

"I've always had a relationship with Pete and I'll ask for his input if I need it. But now it's Michael and me."

McIlroy had stated after his CJ Cup triumph: "There was a lot of reflection the last couple weeks and this is what I need to do.

"I just need to play golf, I need to simplify it, I need to just be me. For the last few months I was maybe trying to be someone else to try to get better and I sort of realised that being me is enough and being me, I can do things like this."

The European Tour will become the DP World Tour from the start of the 2022 season in what has been described as a "ground-breaking evolution."

Prize money will increase to over $200million for the first time, with a new minimum prize fund of $2m for all tournaments solely sanctioned by the DP World Tour.

There will be 47 tournaments in 27 different countries, including new events in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Africa and Belgium, along with an expanded Rolex Series comprising of five events.

The Abu Dhabi Championship, the Dubai Desert Classic, the Scottish Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship will be the Rolex Series events.

The Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship in the United States and the Scottish Open will be co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour.

The Joburg Open will be the opening event of the DP World Tour from November 22-25.

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour group, said: "Today’s announcement is undoubtedly a momentous one in the proud history of our Tour. The launch of the DP World Tour in 2022, coinciding with both of our 50th anniversaries, will herald a new era in global golf, and crucially it will benefit everybody involved – all our players, caddies, fans and partners – as well as making an important contribution to wider society.

"The entire ecosystem of our Tour will be strengthened because of this hugely significant deal, and that was essential to us and to DP World, who have been an incredible supporter of our Tour as well as golf more widely, from grassroots through to the elite professional game.

"The DP World Tour is, therefore, a natural evolution of our decade-long partnership, and the presence of ‘World’ in our new title better reflects our global reach."

Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA TOUR and board member of the European Tour, added: "Thanks to the support of long-standing partner DP World, today's announcement significantly elevates the European Tour on a global basis.

"We are excited for the continued growth and evolution of the European Tour, as well as the momentum this provides toward our Strategic Alliance. I've said before that our respective Tours are positioned to grow – together – over the next 10 years faster than we ever have at any point in our existence, and today's announcement is another point of proof in those efforts."

Thomas Pieters claimed a fifth European Tour win in Algarve after carding a fourth-round score of 68 to top the final leaderboard at the 2021 Portugal Masters.

Matthieu Pavon came into the final round level with Pieters but, despite a strong start, could only muster a 70 as the Belgian pipped him to the title at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.

Pavon finished 19-under to end the tournament level with Danish duo Nicolai Hojgaard and Lucas Bjerregaard, who managed an impressive 64 and 66 respectively in the final round, but could not close the gap to Pieters.

Hojgaard came close to claiming the title himself but, despite recording the lowest score of the round, fell just short with a bogey on the last hole.

Pieters, 29, will now play at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai for the seventh season in a row following his success in Portugal and is enjoying the rewards of his hard work.

"It feels amazing," Pieters said. "It felt like a long time between victories but [my caddie] Adam and I worked so hard and it felt like a deserved one.

"Two years is a long time. I’ve had a child in the meantime, who talks and runs around, it does feel like a long time.

"I was going into this week and next week with my back to the wall. I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I’ve never missed the end of the Race to Dubai and really didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t care if I finished first, second or third. I just wanted to get there, but winning is amazing."

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