SOUTHPORT’S Tommy Fleetwood held off US Open Champion Dustin Johnson and 2014 winner Pablo Larrazábal to win his second European Tour title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The Formby Hall-attached pro, who celebrated his 26th birthday on the opening day of the event, birdied the par five closing hole to seal a final round of 67 and a winning total of 17-under-par. That was beyond the reach of Spaniard Larrazábal, who birdied the last for a round of 68 to finish one shot short, and American Johnson who eagled the 18th to also sign for a 68 and a 16-under-par total.
After a level par front nine, Fleetwood’s challenge was enhanced by a chip-in eagled on the 10th and he followed that with birdies on the 11th, 16th and 18th holes. That latter birdie earned him his first win since his maiden European Tour title at the 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. It also moves him to the top of the early season Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex following a top three finish in the UBS Hong Kong Open before Christmas.
He said: “I thought maybe my second win would come sooner to be honest. It’s been a massive comeback. I made it up to Ian, who has been caddying for me, who is one of my best mates. We made the switch and not a lot of people thought it would work, and we have proved them all wrong. It feels great.
“On 18 I got a good break. It took me a few drops to get the perfect spot but I just had a go at it. You’ve got to take those chances if you want to win. To be honest, that was easier than the four foot putt to win in the end.
“I had a really good hard time from July 2015 to July last year where I really struggled with my game. It’s been an awkward curve. The only thing left was let’s get a win, but I kept thinking you keep knocking on the door, it would come. I didn’t really think it would be this week. Just shows a lot can happen in golf.”