Reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood is in familiar territory after moving to the top of this season’s Race to Dubai rankings by successfully defending his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA title.
The Englishman overcame difficult conditions on the final day, finishing two shots ahead of fellow countryman Ross Fisher to pick up 500,000 points and take his season tally to 570,000, moving him from 16th to first place in the rankings.
“Many congratulations to Tommy on coming from behind to win the Falcon Trophy,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai office. “After last season’s nail-biting finish at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai which saw him crowned the Race to Dubai winner, I’m sure Tommy is eager to return for the European Tour season finale at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November.”
Fleetwood went in to the final round at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club two shots behind overnight leaders Fisher and Thomas Pieters.
Although he still trailed at the turn, the 27-year-old from Southport conjured up a magnificent back nine score of 30 to sign for a closing 65 and finish the championship on 22 under par, two clear of Fisher.
“I never felt like I didn't have a chance,” said Fleetwood, who is now up to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. “It was slipping away score-wise but the conditions were way too tough today to even bother about other people.”
“To sort of validate your position as Race to Dubai Champion or Player of the Year so early on in the season is really nice and satisfying.”
Meanwhile Fisher’s runner-up finish at his first event of the season sees him move to third place in the Race to Dubai with 333,330 points.
Chris Paisley, who won last week’s BMW SA Open Championship hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, continued his good run of form with a tied fifth place finish in Abu Dhabi to move up to fourth in the Rankings.
The 2016 DP World Tour Championship winner Matthew Fitzpatrick also made significant strides up the Race to Dubai. His tied third place finish sees him leapfrog from 53rd to seventh place in the Rankings with a season tally of 192,550.
Making his long awaited comeback to professional golf, four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy showed little signs of rust as he joined Fitzpatrick in a tie for third place to pick up 168,900 points and settle in ninth spot in the season Rankings.
Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, also playing in his first event of the season, wasn’t able to capitalise on his overnight lead as he finished in a tie for fifth place to collect 116,100 points and reach 17th place in the Race to Dubai.
His fellow countryman Thomas Detry finished in tie for ninth to move from 31st to 18th in the Rankings with a season tally of 96,225 points.
Another man who gave himself a chance to play at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in November was Jorje Campillo. The Spaniard finished in 14th place to pick-up 45,900 points to advance his season tally to 62,385, taking him from 69th to 28th place in the Race to Dubai.
England’s Paul Casey, compatriot Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and Fabio Zanotti of Paraguay and all finished just inside the top ten in Abu Dhabi to share 33rd spot in the Race to Dubai rankings with 56,460 points each.
Meanwhile Scott Hend’s tied 22nd place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship sees the Australian move from 136th to 57th place in the season Rankings.
After the first event of the 2018 Desert Swing, it’s Fleetwood who is at the head of the Rankings with 570,000 points while Australia’s Wade Ormsby is in second with a season-tally of 357,710 points and Fisher sits in third spot on 333,330.