Fleetwood holds off big guns to end European Tour drought
Tommy Fleetwood overcame a clutch of heavyweight challengers to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by a single stroke on Sunday, ending his long wait for a second European Tour victory.
The Englishman, who shot a five-under final round of 67 to reach 17 under overall, benefited from the collapse of compatriot Tyrrell Hatton in the United Arab Emirates, the overnight leader's three-over 75 seeing him drop back to tied 13th.
American star Dustin Johnson, last year's U.S. Open champion, and Pablo Larrazabal, who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2014, teed off among the final groups but saw their respective challenges come up short, the pair settling for a two-way share of second place at 16 under.
Fleetwood, meanwhile, who had not won since the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August 2013, was rewarded for maintaining his strong climax to last year. Claiming tied third at the Hong Kong Open in December was his eighth top-20 finish in the space of 10 events, a sequence that began at the KLM Open in September.
When you realise it's actually happened. pic.twitter.com/Iv2Q88YVYG-- The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 22, 2017
"It's pretty cool," he said upon receiving the competition's distinctive trophy.
"[I] didn't see it coming really. A lot of hard work's gone into it.
"I started the season well in Hong Kong. I didn't really want to stop. You never know how you're going to come out and play in your first tournament of the year.
"I'll enjoy this while it lasts and carry on doing what I'm doing."
There were plenty of other big guns in contention at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, the 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson and his fellow Ryder Cup regular Martin Kaymer, a three-time former winner of this event, leading at the close of play on Thursday and Friday respectively.
Kaymer's three-under 69 on Sunday saw him earn a share of third, alongside Bernd Wiesberger and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
South African Dean Burmester was outright seventh, just ahead of Stenson, Lee Westwood and Peter Hanson, with that trio in a tie for eighth at 13 under.