Golf: Lee Westwood captures Abu Dhabi title by two shots

Lee Westwood of England tees off during the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Jan 19, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ABU DHABI (AFP) - Three months short of turning 47, England's Lee Westwood put together a masterclass in leading from the front as he won the US$7 million (S$9.43 million) Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Sunday by two shots.

The former European Tour No. 1 made six birdies in his round of five-under par 67 to finish on 19-under par 269 for his 25th title on the European Tour and 44th worldwide.

Currently ranked 63rd in the world, he is expected to rise to No. 29 on Monday.

Westwood started the day one ahead of his closest rivals Bernd Wiesberger and Francesco Laporta and immediately gave himself some breathing space with birdies on the second and third holes.

He then picked up shots on the fifth and eighth holes to make the turn at four-under par.

He then saved a crucial par from 12 feet on the 11th hole and his tee shot on the 12th almost spun back into the water. Undeterred, he sank his birdie putt from the fringe.

Westwood's only bogey was on the 16th hole which reduced his lead to one shot, but he kept his calm with a measured par on the 17th and then hit two magnificent shots into the par-five 18th for a birdie.

England's two-time Abu Dhabi champion Tommy Fleetwood could not make a birdie on the final par-five 18th hole and finished one shot shy of the Abu Dhabi Golf Club course record.

The 63, which featured nine birdies, helped him finish on 17-under par 271, tied second with Victor Perez of France and compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick.

World No. 25 Fitzpatrick put some heat on Westwood early in the round when he started with three birdies in four holes, but after picking up another shot on the par-five eighth, he had a string of pars before closing with another birdie on the 18th.

Perez, now ranked 45th in the world after a superb 2019 in which he won the Dunhill Links Championship and was second in the Turkish Open, birdied the 17th and eagled the 18th to match Fleetwood's 63 and record his second runner-up finish in a Rolex Series event.

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka completed a decent finish after a 14-week layoff because of stem cell treatment in his injured left knee with a Sunday round of 69. He was tied 34th at eight-under par 280.

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