Fowler claims Abu Dhabi glory


Two moments of final-round magic helped Rickie Fowler get the better of a star-studded field and claim victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

World number five Fowler holed a bunker shot for eagle at the eighth, having double-bogeyed the previous hole, and holed out from off the putting surface once again on the 17th with his position at the top of the leaderboard coming under threat.

Playing partner Thomas Pieters came agonisingly close to tying the lead with an eagle putt at the 18th, but the Belgian had to settle for second at 15 under as Fowler parred the last and completed a 69 to win by one stroke.

The American had earlier opened up a two-stroke cushion at the top of the leaderboard as the third round was completed, before birdieing the first two holes of his final 18 to take control of the lucrative European Tour event.

Much attention in the lead-up to the event had focused on world number one Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Although both finished strongly, it was the third member of their group for the first two rounds, Fowler, who prevailed.

McIlroy again eagled the 18th in a closing 68 to share third with Henrik Stenson (67) at 14 under, while Spieth (68) birdied four of his last seven holes and finished in a six-way tie for fifth - albeit some five shots off the pace.

"It makes it extra special to win here with the field we've had. This is a step in the right direction," said Fowler, who will rise to fourth in the world rankings.

Fowler reeled off eight pars in succession following his heroics on the eighth, which came after he had made a mess of the par-three seventh and seen his lead cut from four to one.

Both McIlroy, who has now had six top-three finishes at this event without triumphing, and Stenson came on strong over the closing holes to pile the pressure on the leader, while Pieters also remained in close contention.

However, Fowler had the answer - a delightful chip-in on the penultimate hole giving him a two-shot cushion heading to the 18th tee.

Pieters refused to give up and almost forced a play-off when his putt for a three at the last came up just short, but Fowler was not to be denied as he added another prestigious title to his increasingly impressive haul, which is arguably only missing a major.