Tommy Fleetwood looks primed to join golf's elite after Abu Dhabi win

Doug Mendoza
January 23, 2018

Briton Tommy Fleetwood produced a sparkling display on the back nine for a closing round of 65 in gusty conditions to retain his title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Sunday. "So if I continue to drive like this and get my iron game back, it's going to be a good year".

The Briton, who cruised home in 30 strokes for a tournament total of 22-under-par 266, was two strokes clear of overnight leader Ross Fisher while four-times major victor Rory McIlroy was tied third alongside Matt Fitzpatrick on 18-under.

1 had started the day 2 behind overnight leaders Fisher and Thomas Pieters.

And the Northern Irishman continued to make big strides up the leaderboard on day three, carding eight birdies and a solitary bogey to get to 16 under par and close the gap to a single stroke.

Fleetwood 2017 beat the reigning world number one, Dustin Johnson, by one shot to kick-start a successful season that culminated in his winning the European Tour's Race to Dubai.

Rory McIlroy closed with a 70 to share third place with Matthew Fitzpatrick, two shots adrift of Fisher, and the Northern Irishman said he was pleased with his first event since calling an early end to his injury-plagued and winless season in October past year.

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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. I was close previous year in South Africa, Stormy (Graeme Storm) beat me in a play-off. I was just in the moment and seeing the shots. I had the year of my life last year. I did this as I wanted to come out still feeling hungry.

"I didn't think it was easy but to finish with three in a row was better".

"So it was sort of important to look at it that way; that maybe try and prove as if you were hurt and you had not had that whole euphoria of achieving something unbelievable in your career".

Pieters and Chris Paisley, who had won the South African Open the previous week, tied for fifth a shot behind McIlroy and Fitzpatrick.

"Hats off to Tommy".

But a bogey on the par five tenth halted his run, and Fleetwood's storming finish settled the issue. I don't feel like I've lost a tournament. "I'm really happy with how I played this week and it gives me confidence going into not only next week but the few months ahead, as well".

Other reports by GizPress

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