Firing Fleetwood wins Abu Dhabi championship

After three days of flat calm, strong winds arrived to test the players at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Sunday.

Hours later Fleetwood delivered European Ryder Cup Captain, Thomas Bjorn another New Year's greeting gift in successfully defending his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title winning by two shots in the UAE capital ahead of the likes of Rory McIlroy and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson. But it was the 40-footer on the 16th which inspired the emotion, Fleetwood punching the air as his fifth birdie putt in seven holes dropped. Bogey on the par-5 10th, which could have easily turned into double if not for a 25-foot bogey putt, stalled his progress. On the 13th, he was stymied behind a tree but hit his second shot from the desert to 6 feet. "I didn't hit many good shots there but it's still nice to make a par on the last after the mess I made". "I don't know why". He won the Race To Dubai and was named number one in Europe previous year. I did everything really well. So to keep it going and defend, it's a weird feeling coming back to try and retain a trophy because it's yours and you don't want to give it away.

For his part, Fisher was disappointed but paid full credit to Fleetwood for a stunning round in tough conditions.

"It was important to come out and make sure I'm hungry".

Tommy has been playing well for a long time, and he's the guy to beat in Europe right now.

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"I didn't think it was easy but to finish with three in a row was better. It was sort of shot after shot".

The four-time major victor has had a number of near misses on previous appearances in the UAE capital - he finished runner-up in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, as well as coming third in 2016 - and is keen to finally lift the trophy in his first competitive start since October. Pieters was another three strokes back after 72. Landry, playing a group behind Rahm in the final threesome, forced the playoff with an 11-foot birdie putt on the water-guarded 18th for a 68. They finished at 22-under 266.

The 27-year-old seemed nearly as shocked by his fourth European Tour title as those he'd left in his wake, telling TV commentator Andrew Coltart his first title defence had been an emotional affair.

Garcia won for the 28th time in his career, and in his fourth Asian country.

  • Angelo Rivera