Tyrrell Hatton cruises to four-shot win in Abu Dhabi as Rory McIlroy falters after bright start
Rory McIlroy still searching for a first Rolex Series title after Tyrrell Hatton claims his fourth after a composed closing 66 propels the Englishman to a dominant victory at the Abu Dhabi Championship; Hatton now projected to move ahead of McIlroy to claim British No 1 status
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 24/01/21 6:31pm
Tyrrell Hatton produced another commanding performance on the final day as he outplayed Rory McIlroy to claim a four-shot victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
McIlroy led by one overnight and got off to a strong start in his bid for a maiden Rolex Series title, but mistakes began to creep in as Hatton piled on the pressure with three birdies in four holes around the turn.
Another birdie at 13 took the Englishman four clear, and neither McIlroy or Tommy Fleetwood were able to find a way back over the closing stages as Hatton's composed 66 swept him to a winning score of 18 under par, with Jason Scrivener storming into second and the biggest pay day of his career after a back-nine 29.
The result was also significant in the world rankings, with Hatton now projected to move ahead of McIlroy to claim British No 1 status, and the 29-year-old could be as high as fifth in the world when the rankings are updated on Monday, depending on where Patrick Cantlay finishes at The American Express.
McIlroy, four times a runner-up in Abu Dhabi, looked in the mood to break his duck in the event when he matched Hatton's birdie at the second and added another at the third to go two strokes clear.
But Hatton pulled one back at the seventh, and McIlroy then made a mess of the long eighth as he pulled his drive into trouble, dumped his third into the bunker short-right of the green, barely escaped the trap and missed the target with his chip as he ran up a scrappy bogey-six.
Hatton holed a good putt for birdie at the ninth and then nailed another from outside 30 feet to maintain his two-shot advantage at the long 10th, a lead which extended to three when McIlroy erred again at the 11th.
A delightful approach to the 13th set up Hatton's fifth birdie of a dominant day at the 13th, and he found another at 16 as McIlroy bogeyed again to fall six behind with Scrivener racing into the clubhouse lead thanks to his sensational finish.
Hatton, also a runaway winner of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in October, safely parred the final two holes to wrap up his sixth European Tour victory that took him alongside Jon Rahm on four Rolex Series titles.
A forlorn McIlroy, without a win since the WGC-HSBC Champions in November, 2019, two-putted from 45 feet for birdie at the last which salvaged a level-par 72, recording his eighth top-three finish in Abu Dhabi.
Scrivener took himself out of contention with three bogeys in five holes on the front nine, although he significantly improved his rankings and his bank balance with a remarkable back-nine charge, starting with an eagle at the 10th before adding five birdies to return a 66.
The Australian won the race for outright second ahead of McIlroy and Rafa Cabrera Bello, who birdied the last for a 69 to finish on 12 under, while Fleetwood plummeted down the leaderboard after following a bogey at 16 with a double-bogey six at the 17th.