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Tommy Fleetwood successfully defends Abu Dhabi HSBC championship title

23 January 2018

A back-nine birdie blitz on Sunday saw the 27 year old become just the second player after Martin Kaymer to defend the Abu Dhabi crown and, after holding off challenges from the likes of Rory McIlroy and World Number One Dustin Johnson Fleetwood, has risen up both the European and World Points lists.

Briton Ross Fisher and Belgian Thomas Pieters shared the lead after Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship third round on Saturday, with four-times major victor Rory McIlroy trailing by a shot.

"The back nine, I played good".

After he had won the title he was seen kissing his wife Clare Craig and he said: "I just really wanted to win this one".

Fleetwood's back nine included a 25-feet putt on the par-3 15th for birdie and a 50-feet birdie putt on the 16th.

Belgian Thomas Pieters, who shared the lead with Fisher after Saturday's third round, shot a final round of 72 to finish fifth alongside Chris Paisley. 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.

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McIlroy had presented Fleetwood with a birthday cake on Friday after their round together and the four-time major victor showed his class once more by the gracious manner he accepted defeat, even though this was the eighth time he'd finished fifth or better here without managing to land the title. I thought he looked great.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson, runner-up to Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi past year, closed with a 70 to finish eight shots adrift of the champion, and the American also joined the plaudits. "After so long away, I didn't really know what my expectations were coming in". "I actually feel more emotional than I did a year ago".

"I don't know if I've ever played better golf than that, but I do know that score was very, very good in those conditions". And everything we've done since then was to make sure that we kept progressing, kept improving.

"I love it", Garcia said of his equipment after the win. So all the practice has been very good.

"I've had a lot of close calls here, I think about six top threes or something like that".

"It's incredible", said McIlroy, who will be playing in this week's Omega Dubai Classic along with Fleetwood and Masters champion Sergio Garcia. "This gives me confidence going into not only next week but the few months ahead, as well".

Tommy Fleetwood successfully defends Abu Dhabi HSBC championship title