Hot back nine sees Fleetwood hold off McIlroy in Abu Dhabi

Former world No1 Rory McIlroy shot a 70 to tie for third place
Tommy Fleetwood of England celebrates with the winner's trophy after the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 21, 2018 in Abu Dhabi.
Sun 21 Jan 2018 05:50 PM

England’s Tommy Fleetwood successfully defended his title at the $3 million Abu Dhabi Championship Sunday, shooting a seven-under par 65 round to beat compatriot Ross Fisher by two shots.

The 27-year-old Southport resident made the turn at one-under par, but was on fire on the back nine. He made six birdies, including one on the closing 18th hole, to edge Fisher.

The back-nine heroics of Fleetwood, ranked 18th in the world and expected to rise to No10 when the new list is released Monday, included making a 25 feet putt for birdie on the 15th hole to tie for the lead with Fisher, and then a 50-feet birdie putt to take outright lead on the 16th hole.

Fisher (69) started the day in impressive fashion with an eagle on the second hole, courtesy a 45-feet putt, and was four-under at the turn. But on the back nine, he made a bogey on the 10th and a solitary birdie on the 16th hole to finish on 20-under par.

Last year, Fleetwood beat the reigning world No1 Dustin Johnson by one shot, kickstarting a successful season that culminated in him winning the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnson (70) finished on 14-under par this year, while former world No1 Rory McIlroy shot a 70 to tie for third place at 18-under par alongside Matthew Fitzpatrick (69).

Overnight joint leader Thomas Pieters (72) and winner of last week’s South African Open, England’s Chris Paisley (69) were tied fifth at 17-under 271.

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Last Updated: Sun 21 Jan 2018 05:26 PM GST

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