January 22, 2017
Tommy Fleetwood kept his composure to come from behind and win his first European Tour title in more than three years at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Englishman posted a five-under-par 67 in his final round to finish 17 under par -- one shot ahead of U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, who hit an eagle on the last, and 2014 Abu Dhabi winner, Pablo Larrazabal of Spain.
Fleetwood's second tour win came after he began the final round one shot behind overnight leader Tyrrell Hatton.
On a day of difficult winds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Fleetwood posted an outward 36 before making his move on the back nine, chipping in for an eagle at the 10th and hitting three other birdies.
The victory continued Fleetwood's fine recent form, which has seen him post 10 top 20 finishes in his last 14 starts.
"I thought maybe the second win would come sooner to be honest," he told the European tour website. "It's been a massive comeback.
"I had a really 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, you know, if you keep knocking on the door it will come.
"The chip-in on 10, birdie on 11, changed everything. All of a sudden from nowhere I was leading."
Fleetwood's only other tour win was at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August 2013.
January 22, 2017
Briton Tyrrell Hatton hit a second successive four-under-par 68 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of a fiercely contested Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Just three shots separate the leading 16 players as they head into the final round.
Hatton, who has finished in the top 10 seven times in his last 11 events, recorded five birdies for the third round in succession and carded just a single bogey.
His total of 203 put him one stroke ahead of fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, overnight leader Martin Kaymer, Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and American Dustin Johnson, who carded a flawless 64.
Among those in the chasing pack were British Open champion Henrik Stenson, fellow Swede Alex Noren and 23-times European Tour winner Lee Westwood, all just three shots off the lead.
The 25-year-old Hatton, who won his first Tour event in October, told reporters he had been pleasantly surprised by his form in Abu Dhabi.
"I didn't do a whole lot of practice. I spent most of my time playing Xbox and chilling out at home," he said.
"The big names are up there, so I've just got to focus on my game and try and play as well as I can.
"I love this place. It's one of my favorite events of the year, so hopefully I can go out there tomorrow and have a good day."
Johnson, the U.S. Open champion, swept into contention with a sparkling round of 64 to equal the best of the week, including six birdies and an eagle.
German Kaymer fell back into joint-second place after making three bogeys in a disappointing round of 72.
January 21, 2017
Martin Kaymer stayed on course for a fourth title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a second consecutive round of 66 to seize the halfway lead on Friday.
The straight-hitting Kaymer again found the course and conditions to his liking to move one stroke clear on 12 under.
Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello also carded a six-under 66 to move to 11 under for his two rounds.
Kaymer, seeking a first title since the 2014 U.S. Open, took a while to get his round moving.
On the tee at the par-five eighth he was one over for the day but a brilliant eagle after a superb approach shot was followed by birdies at the 10th and 11th.
Another bogey came on the 12th but he replied immediately on the next hole and chipped in for another birdie on the 14th.
Cabrera Bello had set the pace with seven birdies in his earlier round, but Kaymer sunk a huge putt on the 16th to move level with the Spaniard and moved into the outright lead when he rolled in a birdie on the par-five 18th.
"I don't try to push, I just try to enjoy playing my favorite golf course," Kaymer said.
"Once in a while when a putt drops in you catch momentum and you can make another three or four birdies coming in, like it happened today.
"I felt like I played a little bit better than yesterday. It was a bit more difficult today with the wind, especially the first nine. I struck the ball a little bit better and I made a few long putts today, same as yesterday."
Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Ireland's Paul Dunne and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, all finished on 10 under.
World number four Henrik Stenson, who set the pace in round one with a majestic 64, slipped back after a one-under 71.
Defending champion Rickie Fowler signed for a 68 to stay just about in contention at four under but U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett had a miserable time with a 76, including a nine at the 10th, to miss the cut.
January 20, 2017
Henrik Stenson had just chipped in from 30 yards for a fourth birdie in his first five holes of 2017 when he turned to his caddie and delivered another example of his renowned dry humor.
''Must be all that short-game practice I didn't do,'' the No. 2-ranked Swede said, deadpan as ever.
The British Open champion spent more time on the ski slopes in Utah than hitting golf balls during his short offseason, not that it showed at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Thursday.
With eight birdies in a bogey-free and trouble-free opening round, Stenson shot an 8-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead in his first tournament of the year. Three-time Abu Dhabi champion Martin Kaymer was tied for second after a 66 on a course he thrives on, along with Oliver Fisher, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Marc Warren after a calm and warm day in the gulf emirate.
Stenson will do well to top 2016 - he lifted the claret jug to end his quest for a first major title and finished the season as Europe's No. 1 - and he prepared for the new year by mostly ditching his clubs and getting away from the golf course over the holidays.
Even his build-up to the Abu Dhabi event wasn't ideal, with two overnight flights in three days from his home in Orlando interrupted by his attendance at an awards ceremony in Stockholm where he beat Zlatan Ibrahimovic, among others, to win Male Sports Athlete of the Year at the Swedish Sports Awards.
All Stenson needed was a few buckets of balls and some good putting sessions to get him back on track. Playing in an early-morning group with two more current major champions in Dustin Johnson and Danny Willett, Stenson birdied his first hole - No. 10 - and completed his hot early streak with a chip-in at No. 14 after leaving his approach five yards short of the green.
He curled in a birdie putt from 15 feet on No. 17 and tapped in at the par-5 18th to pick up another shot, before making birdie on two of his last three holes to end a round in which his ball was never in danger.
''Didn't do much practice before I left but the practice I did do was pretty good,'' Stenson said. ''I was quite amazed how good the game felt coming into today. But again, I feel like I scored better than I played.''
Stenson clearly likes this part of the world. The Abu Dhabi Championship is the only title he hasn't won in the ''Gulf Swing,'' a run of three early-year tournaments that also comprises the Qatar Masters and the Dubai Desert Classic. Stenson has also twice won the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai, where he used to live.
It was Stenson's second best round at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, only bettered by his course-record 62 in 2006 when he was runner-up to Chris DiMarco. It is a long course that suits Stenson's eye, and the same could be said of Kaymer.
The two-time major winner from Germany mixed eight birdies - three coming on his final three holes - with two bogeys for his 66, his latest low score at an event where he has exceled over the past decade. He won in 2008, '10 and '11, and should have won in 2015, only to throw away a 10-shot lead with 13 holes to play on the final day.
''The golf course, for me, doesn't feel like I need to do a lot of special things in order to play well because I usually putt well on those greens,'' Kaymer said. ''Doesn't feel like a hard-working day.''
Johnson, the U.S. Open champion and - at No. 3 - the highest-ranked player in a strong field after Rory McIlroy's withdrawal on Monday, shot 72 in his first appearance in Abu Dhabi. Defending champion Rickie Fowler also was at even par.
No player in the afternoon wave got within two shots of Stenson, with Rafa Cabrera Bello, Tommy Fleetwood and Julien Quesne the best of the later finishers with 67s.
Former top-ranked player Lee Westwood had his girlfriend, Helen, on the bag after his long-time caddie, Billy Foster, dropped out following the death of his father on Saturday. Westwood took responsibility for yardage of his shots and reading the greens, and shot a 68.
|T19||ESP||Rafael Cabrera Bello||-8||-||67||66||74||73||280|
|T23||RSA||Jaco Van Zyl||-7||-||71||71||67||72||281|
|T23||POR||Ricardo Melo Gouveia||-7||-||72||69||67||73||281|
|T29||-||Magnus A. Carlsson||-6||-||74||66||74||68||282|
|T60||ESP||Eduardo De La Riva||-1||-||72||70||70||75||287|
|CUT||RSA||Trevor Fisher Jnr||-1||-||71||72||-||-||143|