Fleetwood scorches back nine for Abu Dhabi golf win
Abu Dhabi (AFP)
England’s world number 102 Tommy Fleetwood overcame swirling winds and final-hole jitters to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by one shot on Sunday.
The 25 year old carded a five-under-par final-round 67 to clinch only the second European Tour title of his career.
He finished on 271, one shot ahead of world number three Dustin Johnson, the US Open champion who made an eagle on the last hole for a final-round 68.
Tied with him on 16 under par was Spain's 2014 champion Pablo Larrazabal, who also shot 68.
Fleetwood was even par with a birdie and a bogey on the front nine, but chipped in an eagle from the front edge of the par-five 10th green to kick-start his charge.
"The 10th was a big turning point, really. You can quite easily chip that to six foot and miss and make five. I chipped it in and made three and birdied the next. Those two holes were the big difference," he said.
"Some good players chasing me, so very, very proud of this. I did really just concentrate on my own game, kept going. A 31 on the back nine on a Sunday is great, no matter who you are."
The outcome could have been different, however, after a few nerves on the 18th when Fleetwood was just one shot ahead of Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Larrazabal.
He hit a wayward tee shot next to the cart path on the left and after a lengthy discussion with the referee got a drop.
Then he hit a stunning three-wood second shot straight to the heart of the green and two-putted for birdie.
Three-time champion Martin Kaymer of Germany made an eagle at the last hole to tie Bernd Wiesberger (68) of Austria and Kiradech (69) in fourth place at 273.
Last year’s winner, Rickie Fowler of the US, shot a 72 and finished 12 shots behind the leader on five-under, while reigning British Open champion and European number one Henrik Stenson (69) was in a three-way tie for eighth place at 275.
Fleetwood is expected to move close to 50th in the world rankings when they are released Monday.
- In the hunt -
Johnson, who is scheduled to play in Torrey Pines next week, said he was happy with the state of his game.
"All in all it was a solid day. It was windy out there. It's playing a little bit tougher today. I felt like I struck the ball well and gave myself plenty of opportunities. I just didn’t roll any putts in," he said.
Larrazabal, who was playing with Johnson in the leader group, made several long putts and kept himself in the hunt. He needed an eagle on the last to force a playoff, but could only manage a birdie.
“I gave it my best. I never give up. I didn’t play my best but I tried my best, holding some putts, chipping in on the 14th. Three bogeys on Sunday afternoon are too many. But I’m very proud the way I played."
The Desert Swing of the European Tour moves next to Doha for the Qatar Masters from January 26-29.
© 2017 AFP