Fowler keeps his nerve to win Abu Dhabi HSBC C'ship

Rickie Fowler smiles after winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, his fourth title in eight months.
Rickie Fowler smiles after winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, his fourth title in eight months.PHOTO: REUTERS

ABU DHABI • Rickie Fowler fought off a late charge from Rory McIlroy and Belgium's Thomas Pieters to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by one stroke yesterday, the American's fourth title in eight months.

Fowler's latest victory will propel the 27-year-old American to fourth in the world rankings after topping a strong field that included Masters and US Open champion Jordan Spieth and four-time Major winner McIlroy.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy (68) had been out of sorts, but three late birdies and then a 30-foot eagle on No. 18 gave him a 14-under aggregate of 274, with Fowler a stroke ahead and two holes to play.

The American golfer responded by making a birdie from off the green at No. 17, a rare smile flickering across his lips as he eventually carded a three-under 69 for a 16-under total of 272.

Fowler had earlier holed from a bunker for an eagle on the eighth hole.

That came immediately after a double bogey on the seventh hole on a dramatic final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

"On the seventh, I made a bad swing, so kind of deserved a little bit of a penalty there," he told the European Tour website.

"I got a bit of a bad break having a boulder underneath the ball there. So nothing I can really do about that.

"And I almost made four, which would have been amazing.

"I walk away with five and then go to the next hole and just try to hop back on the horse.

"I've been swinging it well all week, I hit a great drive, got it up there just short and hit a perfect bunker shot."

Playing partner Pieters' 25-foot eagle attempt at the last hole stopped three inches short, the Belgian's 67 leaving him a stroke adrift in second place.

McIlroy had to share third place with Swede Henrik Stenson, while Spieth (68) finished in a six-way tie for fifth.

World No. 1 Spieth will head into this week's SMBC Singapore Open in good form after mixing six birdies with two bogeys in his final round.

Fowler's first win of this year follows triumphs at last season's Scottish Open, Players Championship and Deutsche Bank Championship.

"This was a big one," he said after winning the US$2.7 million (S$3.86 million) Abu Dhabi event yesterday. "Last year having a multiple-win season, to come back and work on getting back in the winners' circle after a successful season and keep moving forward.

"This is a great start."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2016, with the headline 'Fowler keeps his nerve to win Abu Dhabi HSBC C'ship'. Print Edition | Subscribe