England's Tommy Fleetwood defended his Abu Dhabi Championship title by finishing on 22-under-par, two shots clear of compatriot Ross Fisher yesterday.
Fleetwood, who turned 27 on Friday, trailed compatriot Ross Fisher by five shots at the turn in the final round before picking up birdies at the tenth, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th in blistering closing burst to join both Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey as a multiple victor of this event.
"My best golf is getting better and better and my worse golf is getting better as well".
Fleetwood entered the final round trailing by two strokes, but he had six birdies on the back nine to win. He picked up another shot on 18, which proved to be a luxury cushion when Fisher failed to make birdies on 17 and 18. "I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game", Mickelson said after posting a 68 on Friday. "I don't know why. I just really wanted to win this one", said Fleetwood, who is expected to advance from 18th to 11th in the rankings on Monday.
The points race, which began at the REAL D+D Czech Masters previous year, will heat up further once May comes around, when points earned will be multiplied by 1.5 at Rolex Series events.
After his round, McIlroy told Sky Sports Golf: "I putted really well and hit the ball very well". It's a weird feeling coming to defend a trophy because it's yours and you don't want to give it away.
Fleetwood added that the tough conditions made it easier for him to focus.
"It was important to come out and make sure I'm hungry. Obviously, I'm really pleased with everything right now, and I still feel like I can get better".
"To keep it going and hit form early is great. It was sort of shot after shot".
The lead was gained in stunning fashion as Fleetwood found the cup from 40 feet as Fisher paid the price for an errant tee shot, falling two shots off the pace.
The returning Rory McIlroy finished in a share of third on 18-under after his challenge stalled somewhat on the back nine, alongside another Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick. He caught up with Fisher at 20-under with a 25-feet birdie putt on the 15th hole, and then powered ahead with a putt twice as long on the next hole.
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