Lee Westwood was left the nearly man in Dubai again yesterday as Rafael Cabrera-Bello, ranked 116 places below him, pulled off another European Tour shock.
Two weeks after England’s Robert Rock beat Tiger Woods and the world’s top four in Abu Dhabi the 27-year-old Canary Islander became the Omega Desert Classic champion with a bogey-free closing 68 at The Emirates.
Third round leader Westwood finished runner-up in the event for the third time after failing to birdie any of the last five holes.
Westwood had shot a superb 67 on Saturday to move to the top of the leaderboard.
He does have the small consolation, however, of taking the world number two spot back off fifth-placed Rory McIlroy - by 0.004 ranking points.
Even at the long 18th a play-off looked likely, but off a fine drive the Worksop golfer went left of the green, chipped nearly 25 feet past the flag and missed the putt.
Scot Stephen Gallacher could still deny Cabrera-Bello as a result, but after laying up from the rough he missed his 12-foot birdie attempt.
That made the 37-year-old joint second with Westwood and means he still has only one victory on the circuit in 379 starts going back almost two decades.
Cabrera-Bello became the third Spanish winner of the title in a row after Miguel Angel Jimenez and Alvaro Quiros - Jimenez beat Westwood in a play-off - and he had to wait to see if it was good enough to put him into the 64-man Accenture World Match Play Championship in Arizona the week after next.
It was his second Tour win, the first coming with a record-equalling closing round of 60 in the Austrian Open three years ago.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling and it’s been a really spectacular week for me,” Cabrera-Bello said, remembering that he began it with nine birdies in 11 holes.
“With so many big, big names I felt really proud of myself. I wanted to fight, I stayed calm, I did everything that I’ve read we should do in these type of situations.
“I had ups and downs of course, but overall I think I played great.
“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.”
In the windier conditions Cabrera-Bello went into the joint lead with a pitch to three feet on the second, but Westwood then drove just short of the green there and sank a 40-foot eagle putt to go two clear.
Bogeying the fifth gave the chasing group hope and by the time Westwood made his first birdie on the long 13th he found himself part of a three-way tie.
Even that was a disappointment as he missed a 10-foot eagle chance after Gallacher had holed from nearly four times as far and, following his birdies at the 11th and 12th, it was Cabrera-Bello’s nine-foot putt for another on the 17th that proved the decisive blow, Westwood missing from seven.
Joint halfway leader McIlroy resumed only two behind, but three-putted the first and gave himself too much to do after going in the water and double-bogeying the ninth.
Sheffield’s Danny Willett finished in a tie for 33rd on six under par after two rounds of 70 over the weekend. It was a good tournament for the 24-year-old.
Worksop’s Mark Foster missed the cut.