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By Kent Gray
The inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship proved a tale of Andy Sullivan’s speedy start and Antoine Rozner’s fast finish.

Sullivan did his best to win the new $1.2 million event wire-to-wire at Jumeirah Golf Estates after a sizzling start on Fire with his Wednesday 61.

But the game of catch me if you can proved irresistible to Rozner even if the 27-year-old Parisian admitted after securing his maiden European Tour title with a closing 64 that he had no idea where he stood on the leaderboard until the 72nd hole.

“It means a lot,” said Rozner who became the 14th first time winner on the 2020 Race to Dubai in his 24th appearance in a stellar rookie year. “It’s been such a strange year, we have been through so much all over the world and to be able to get it done in such nice fashion, eight under, it’s amazing.

“I’m going to be very honest with you, the first time I saw I was in the lead was when I was on the 18th green so I didn’t really look at the leaderboards.”

You had to feel for Sullivan who did little wrong all week. The only danger was a low final round from one of the 11 players who started Saturday’s final round within five strokes, especially if the Englishman stalled.

There was no hint of that when Sullivan birdied the 1st for the fourth successive day, this time with a drive, baby wedge approach to within four feet. Indeed, he still led with six holes to play as anticipated challenges from Matt Wallace and Renato Paratore crashed and burned in a flurry of double bogeys.

Rozner came close to his European Tour breakthrough when he and Paratore were pipped in a playoff at the Mauritius Open last December by Rasmus Hijgaard. But few saw him seriously challenging on Fire even after his three birdies in an outward nine played in 33 strokes.

But the Frenchman ‘s name when up in lights when he completed a hat-trick of birdies with a brilliant shot on the 261-yard par-3 11th which rolled ever closer off the left-hand camber of the green.

His decisive move came on the 13th when a slightly pushed approach to the par-5 took a friendly hop off the fringe and set up an eagle putt he duly drained. There was a hiccup with a bogey in 15 but an immediate bounce-back birdie on 16 and a tap-in for another gain on 18 saw Rozner finish on -25.

Mike Lorenzo-Vera, who played some magnificent shots in a closing 65, finished in a four-way share of second on -23 with Sullivan, Wallace and Italian Francesco Laporta.

“I knew the game was there. I didn’t know it was that good but I’m excited. I knew I was in the final [next week’s DP World Tour Championship] already, it’s just a good way to finish the season. The biggest tournament of the year.

“I didn’t play any Rolex Series events this year so to be able to play such a big tournament will be a big thing for me, so I’m excited.”

The Race to Dubai deciding DP World Tour Championship begins on the neighbouring Earth course at JGE on Thursday.