'It was a miracle': Robert Rock recalls winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in 2012

The former DP World Tour player shared fond memories of the UAE on the sidelines of the Robert Rock Abu Dhabi Championship

By Robert Rock

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Robert Rock beat Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods in the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. - Photo X
Robert Rock beat Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods in the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. - Photo X

Published: Tue 9 Apr 2024, 3:06 PM

Last updated: Tue 9 Apr 2024, 5:39 PM

My memories of Abu Dhabi Golf Club have always been about an amazing golf course, clubhouse, hotel and facility as well as the good weather.

My recollection from 2012, when I won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, was all about a miracle.


I recall Martin Kaymer winning the tournament several times in the early days – always with good scores. I never felt the golf course suited me.

The week before in 2012 – I practiced very hard in South Africa at the tournament at Fancourt - I thought the hard work would be productive sometime in the season ahead.


I had no expectations when I arrived for the tournament week. I did very little practice when I arrived. I plodded around the first two days with rounds of 69 and 70 to make the cut.

Robert Rock shares his personal memories of winning the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the DP World Tour. - Supplied photo
Robert Rock shares his personal memories of winning the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the DP World Tour. - Supplied photo

My best previous finish in Abu Dhabi before was around 40th at eight under par – nothing special.

In round three – I really played my best golf - I shot six under par 66.

With the leaderboards in view, I intended to finish strong on Saturday and play with Tiger Woods in the final round – I birdied both 17 and 18.

I felt this was a career opportunity I should not miss, whatever the results of the tournament.

Robert is committed to encouraging and develop golfers from beginners and juniors through to professional level. - Supplied photo
Robert is committed to encouraging and develop golfers from beginners and juniors through to professional level. - Supplied photo

In the final round, I was paired with Ryder Cupper from Sweden Peter Hanson and Tiger. I was obviously nervous – it was a real eye-opener playing with Tiger with decent crowds in the final round of a golf tournament.

I played some of my best golf in round three which would normally be a good sign to hopefully carry that form on.

But on this occasion, as I stood on tee one at The National Course - I was not sure what to expect, I did not feel ready – I just hoped I hit the ball somewhere near the middle of the clubface. Both Peter and Tiger missed the fairway and I hit the fairway with a good drive and we were off.

My caddie, Gary Tilston was a star for me that day and kept my feet on the ground and his experience was priceless.

Our priority was to enjoy the round – Gary had won a bunch of tournaments – but I know this was a special victory for him as well.

Throughout the round Gary never got excited - then we reached the 18th green and I needed to two-putt from 30 feet or so for the victory up one of the tiers.

It was never one of my favourites to hit up a tier. I hit a super putt to the edge of the hole and I was the champion having shot a final round 70.

Tiger was encouraging and absolute class all the way around, mindful it was the business end of the tournament. He acknowledged I was there - and said good shot when appropriate - a lot more than many other golfers I have played with.

He was very nice especially at the end and in the Scorer’s Tent when it was really private and he said well done.

It is hard to believe it is over 12 years since my Abu Dhabi victory. A few of the juniors playing this week were not born when I won here – now that is a thought.

I have so many great memories of this place and I look forward to returning again – hopefully for future editions of the Robert Rock Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

- Robert (England) is 46 years old, turned professional in 1998 and won twice on the DP World Tour, including the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. His highest OWGR was 55th.

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