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Sunday, 21 January 2018
Day 4 Highlights - 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Tommy Fleetwood produced a brilliant back nine display to successfully defend his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA title.

The 27-year-old stormed home in just 30 strokes to complete a closing 65, with his 22-under-par total giving him a two-shot victory over fellow Englishman Ross Fisher.

The returning Rory McIlroy finished in a share of third on 18 under after his challenge stalled somewhat on the back nine, alongside another of the English contingent in Matt Fitzpatrick.

When Fisher stormed to the turn in 32, Race to Dubai champion Fleetwood found himself five shots adrift.

However, Fleetwood began for home with a birdie from 12 feet on the tenth, and when Fisher drove into dessert scrub on the same hole and eventually did well to salvage a bogey it proved to be a crucial momentum swing.

Fleetwood holed a 15 footer on the 12th to make it a three-way tie for second alongside McIlroy and Fisher's overnight joint-leader Thomas Pieters, although the Belgian's challenge unravelled on the 11th as he tangled with a bunker and ran up a double-bogey.

The Fleetwood charge continued with a gain from eight feet on the 13th, and he then drew level with Fisher by rolling in a 30 footer on the 15th.

A spectacular 40 footer on the 16th put Fleetwood in front for the first time since the opening round, and a wayward tee shot on the 15th saw Fisher drop a shot to fall two behind.

Although Fisher got the shot back on the next, Fleetwood maintained the pressure with a birdie from five feet at the last, and Fisher was unable to eagle the 18th to force a play-off.

“It was pretty good on that back nine really,” said Fleetwood, whose win is set to take him into the top ten on the Official World Golf Ranking. “I think at the turn, it was just a few shots -  the up-and-down on ten, the up-and-down on 11, 13, got a bit lucky with the tee shot.

“When putts were going in like 15 and 16, you just feel like, could this be my day again. Then 18, I mean, forget the second shot, the up-and-down was one of the best up-and-downs I ever made. So happy days.

“I holed the putts on the back nine, ten, 12, 13, 15, 16, the up-and-down on 18. I was just in the moment and seeing the shots.“

Fisher, who was chasing a first European Tour title since landing the Tshwane Open in 2014, began the day level with Pieters on 16 under par and initially seized the initiative when he holed for a spectacular eagle from 50 feet on the second.

However, the birdies dried up just as Fleetwood made his move and a 67 eventually saw the former Ryder Cup star settle for second.

Fitzpatrick followed up Saturday's brilliant 63 with a 69, while McIlroy struggled for accuracy off the tee during the final round of his first appearance since October and had to settle for a round of 70.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FLEETWOOD, TommyENG18-22
2FISHER, RossENG18-20
T3MCILROY, RoryNIR18-18
T3FITZPATRICK, MatthewENG18-18
T5PAISLEY, ChrisENG18-17
T5PIETERS, ThomasBEL18-17

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