Tommy Fleetwood retains Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship crown
Last Updated: 21/01/18 3:44pm
Tommy Fleetwood produced a stunning performance on the back nine to retain the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title.
The Race to Dubai champion defied the blustery conditions to knock in six birdies from the 10th and come home in just 30 strokes to snatch the victory by two shots from Ross Fisher.
Fisher had earlier taken command of the final round at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club when he went four clear after seven holes, but he was overtaken in the closing stages after the birdie barrage from his fellow Englishman.
Fleetwood's storming finish gave him a seven-under 65 for a 22-under total of 266, while Fisher signed for a three-under 69.
Rory McIlroy completed an encouraging comeback week by claiming a share of third place with England's Matthew Fitzpatrick on 18 under.
Fleetwood, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday, started the day two behind joint-leaders Fisher and Thomas Pieters and made a solid start with back-to-back birdies at the second and third.
Fisher was playing some superb golf behind him, though, and he rolled in a 50-foot putt for an eagle at the second before adding birdies at the fourth and seventh.
Fleetwood dropped his only shot of the day at the sixth and that gave Fisher some clear daylight at the top of the leaderboard heading to the turn.
The par-five 10th hole proved to be a turning point for both players as Fleetwood posted a birdie and Fisher dropped his first shot of the day following a wayward tee shot.
That was the start of Fleetwood's charge as he added back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th and, after just missing out at the 14th, he rolled in monster putts for further gains at the 15th and 16th which elevated him into the lead.
Fleetwood's advantage became two shots when Fisher bogeyed the par-three 15th after leaving his tee shot short of the green, although he recovered with a birdie at 16.
There was another birdie near-miss for Fleetwood at the 17th and he had the title in the bag - becoming the second player to retain the crown after Martin Kaymer in 2011 - when he birdied the par-five 18th following a superb chip from the greenside rough.
McIlroy, who returned to competitive golf after a 104-day absence this week, was just one shot off the lead after the third round, but he never quite found top gear in the final round as he mixed four birdies with two bogeys in his 70.
Fitzpatrick saved his best golf for last as he birdied the final three holes to finish alongside McIlroy in third after a 69.
Belgian Pieters had to settle for a share of fifth place on 17 under - with last week's SA Open winner Chris Paisley (69) - after back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth and a double-bogey at the 11th in a level-par 72 ended his victory hopes.
France's Alexander Levy (68) came seventh on 16 under, one ahead of Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who matched Fleetwood's closing 65.
World No 1 Dustin Johnson (70), English duo Paul Casey (70) and Andrew Johnston (72), Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay (70) and Belgium's Thomas Detry (72) tied for ninth place on 14 under.