Brilliant back nine sees Fleetwood retain title

Tommy Fleetwood impressively defended his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title on Sunday

Rory McIlroy was the man everyone was watching but it was defending champion Tommy Fleetwood who burst from the chasing pack to grab a second consecutive Abu Dhabi Championship.

Tommy Fleetwood saved his best for last as he launched a superb charge on the back nine at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club to retain the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title. "Hit a lot of good putts that didn't go in the hole from pretty close range, but all day, I gave myself really good chances for birdies". He made six birdies, including one on the closing 18th hole, to edge Fisher.

Fleetwood was just one under for his final round at the turn and trailing leader Ross Fisher by five shots, but Fisher stuttered over the back nine as the defending champion piled on the pressure with a barrage of birdies.

Fisher's immediate response to the inclement conditions was formidable, stretching a lead he had shared at the start of the day with Thomas Pieters, his playing partner, to four by the time he had reached the eighth. Par breakers at 8 and 10 seemed to draw him back into a title bid however an errant approach, from the fairway, at the 417-yard par-4 11th found sand and he then three-putted for double bogey-6.

The lead was gained in stunning fashion as Fleetwood found the cup from 40 feet as Fisher paid the price for an errant tee shot, falling two shots off the pace.

The 27-year-old seemed nearly as shocked by his fourth European Tour title as those he'd left in his wake, telling TV commentator Andrew Coltart his first title defence had been an emotional affair. "After so long away, I didn't really know what my expectations were".

"I feel a lot more emotional than a year ago", admitted the victor.

"I wouldn't have known I shot 30 on the back nine when I came in".

"I didn't think it was easy but to finish with three in a row was better". So all the practice has been very good.

Guys like Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas took the leap into elite status previous year.

"I feel like it's a lot different playing wind over here than it is in Europe".

And what of Rory McIlroy? I know it's only three months but things change and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process you need for competitive golf and scenarios and this and that.

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