Lee Janzen News Conference Transcript - 1998

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 3, 2001, 4:00 pm
LEE JANZEN:My mantle has plenty of room for a second trophy. And if it doesn't, we'll make a new one. There's always room for something like this.
 
Q. What's your greatest emotion right now.
 
LEE JANZEN:My greatest emotion right now? I would say complete satisfaction that I went out and played my absolute best, and then won in the one championship I love more than any other.
 
Q. When you were seven shots behind early on, did you still have winning in mind?
 
LEE JANZEN:My -- when I bogeyed 2 and 3, my first thought was just hit good shots, and just -- if you have some good holes maybe you can get back into this thing. But I didn't count myself out, but I wasn't thinking about winning. I wasn't thinking about winning when I teed off, I figured I'd be too nervous if I thought about that. I went out and tried to play a good round of golf.
 
Q. Let's go through the holes.
 
LEE JANZEN:Second hole, 3-wood, into the short rough -- intermediate rough on the side of the fairway. I hit an 8-iron that jumped out of the grass,, and I went over the green into -- I can't remember if it was the short rough or the long rough. I think it was in the edge of the long rough. From there I chipped it short about 25 feet, 2-putted for bogey. The 3rd hole, I hit a 5-iron that landed between the two bunkers on the right, then bounced over the bunker and into a sidehill-lie with some very thick grass. From there I hacked it across the green into the short rough on the other side, and then chipped it down and made about a 3-footer for bogey. The 4th hole, I hit a 3-wood. I was in the left side of the fairway. From there I hit a smooth 5-iron. I can't recall the yardage, exactly, but I left myself about 20 feet to the right of the hole. And the putt broke about two feet to the left. The next birdie was on the 7th hole where I hit a 3-iron, and then a sand wedge to about -- about six feet and made a putt that broke about two feet. The 11th hole, I hit a driver in the fairway on the right side, right center. I then hit a 6-iron from 156 that landed on the hill left of the green, and then made an 8-footer from there for birdie. The 13th hole, I hit a 5-iron, and I think the yardage was 199, but all I had in mind was hitting it 180 yards in the air, because that green is really hard, and I knew it would rollback. If it came up short it was okay, I was just trying to give myself a chance to at least make par, but it rolled back to the hole about five feet. And then the rest were pars. No. 5, why do you want to talk about that hole. The 5th hole, I hit a 4-wood off the tee to my right. The wind was right-to-left off the hole all week. I over played it, and it hit the trees. On the way down, the marshals were looking around, not finding it. I thought maybe it stayed in the tree. Then someone yelled that it stayed in the tree, that they had it with their binoculars. I grabbed a ball from my caddy and was ready to head back to the tee immediately. I never even got to my ball. Before I could get back to the tee, the ball fell out of the tree. And it was still in the rough. It didn't kick out to the fairway. I had a tough chip to get back in the fairway. I got back in the fairway and hit a 6-iron that I was trying to land just about ten yards short, and it flew over the green. From there, I had a great lie and chipped in for par. Originally, when I started walking back to the tee thinking my ball was stuck in the tree, I thought: This just isn't right. ; my ball is stuck in the tree; I've just made birdie to turn things around. Now, I'm going to be lucky to make a double. You can imagine how much better I felt walking off that hole with a par.
 
Q. How long a chip did it take?
 
LEE JANZEN:From the time I got down near the ball, just a couple of minutes. I turned around immediately before I ever got to it. The wind picked up, and they said as the wind picked up, it fell out of the tree.
 
Q. Lee, did you scoreboard-watch, and if you did, when did you start noticing what Payne Stewart was doing?
 
LEE JANZEN:I saw he made a bogey early in the round. I looked at the scoreboard the entire week, but I just made a point to myself on the 13th hole that I would not look at the scoreboard the rest of the day. I didn't want to know how I stood. I was going to play my game the rest of the way in. I didn't want to think if I got lucky and got ahead -- I didn't want to play safe. I just wanted to continue to hit good shots. Even though I looked at it the first 60-something holes of the tournament, I didn't look at it at all the last six holes of the tournament.
 
Q. Lee, when the ball fell out of the tree, did you think about Baltusrol?
 
LEE JANZEN:Not then, but later in the round I did, when I realized that I had a chance to win. I started thinking Payne Stewart, a chip in and a ball in the tree, where have I heard this before?
 
Q. What hole was that in Baltusrol?
 
LEE JANZEN:10.
 
Q. Did you happen to look up in the tree, had they cut down a limb there recently?
 
LEE JANZEN:I don't think so. I could not notice if the tree limb had been cut down. I never got to where the ball was. When the guy said it stayed in the tree, I turned around immediately, before I got down to the area -- I don't know how high up it was.
 
Q. Just a quick one, and then I follow-up. Did he ask what kind of tree?
 
LEE JANZEN:I thought it had to be thick, because the ball had to stay there. I don't know what kind of trees they are, but they're fantastic to look at.
 
Q. I don't know if you knew that Payne got victimized by a tough break. He landed right in the middle of a big, fat divot on the 12th hole and that made a bogey for him?
 
LEE JANZEN:I was in a divot on the second hole yesterday, of which is not the way you want to start when you're trying to catch the leader. I hit it; it kicked into the long rough; I hit a sand wedge, and I get up in the middle of the divot in the sand and, I was thinking to myself: This just can't be,. This is the worst start possible. So I took my sand wedge out. I kind of looked at it, and said: This is how hard I'm going to hit it. And I hit it about two feet from the hole and made par. It was unlucky to be in the divot, but it was a turning point right away, to be able to get out of the divot.
 
Q. Inaudible?
 
LEE JANZEN:I would prefer to hit out of a divot, not a sand divot. And at Winged Foot, I hit it down the middle of the fairway on the 6th hole on Saturday, and basically, did not have a shot because I was in a sand divot. And I made bogey. It was a good chance to make birdie, because it was only a hundred yards from the pin. I think that cost me a chance on contending Sunday.
 
Q. Lee, you're pretty soft spoken, very emotional, obviously, today. How do you get it together and get tough enough to win in a tournament like this?
 
LEE JANZEN:Well, playing the golf part is easy, because we've done it so many times. But keeping your emotions in check is the hard part. And after 11, I realized I had a chance to win. And I kept thinking about, this is the U.S. Open. I have a chance to win,. I had to keep reminding myself that it only takes one shot. When I lose focus, that I could ruin any chance of winning. That's really what kept me going. I just said when this thing is over, you can relax and think about all the great things. But every shot -- if you don't give your full attention, you're not going to win this thing.
 
Q. It's Father's Day and your son is there, how old is he and what's his name?
 
LEE JANZEN:He's almost five, and his name is Connor. He tries to climb trees; he tries to climb everything.
 
Q. Would you please tell us about your thoughts on the second shot on 17?
 
LEE JANZEN:Yesterday, I had 205 to the hole and just smoked a 3-iron that went over the green. Today, I had about 200 yards to the front of the green, and I figured the wind was more into us today, so I thought it was a perfect club to came for the front of the green. I knew I hit a good shot yesterday. I knew I made double; it wasn't because I didn't hit a good shot. I hit a 3-iron to the green again,; I hit another good shot. The ball could have -- it landed just at the front edge of the green, just about two yards right of the gap going up the green, but it was a well-struck shot. If it hadn't been as well struck, it wouldn't have carried as far.
 
Q. Lee, I apologize, I was at Baltusrol, but I've forgotten the ball-in-the-tree incident there, could you recap it?
 
LEE JANZEN:I love doing that. I led the tournament for almost four days, and everyone remembers this shot. On the 10th hole, I drove to the right, and I was in some out-of-bound rough. And then I decided I'd hit a 5-iron and go over the tree out of the green. Well, I didn't catch the ball quite solidly enough and hit it a little low, and it went right between a couple of big branches and landed on the front of the green, and I 2-putted for par.
 
Q. Lee, what were your thoughts on The Olympic Club, coming in here, and your thoughts on the course?
 
LEE JANZEN:I think it's a great golf course. I really enjoy playing THE TOUR Championship here. Everybody asked me what my favorite course is, but it's hard to pick one, so I tell them five, and The Olympic Club is always in my top five.
 
Q. What were you thinking watching Payne's putt on 18?
 
LEE JANZEN:I could hardly stand to watch. As a player, that's it right there, if he makes it, we're playing off. If he misses it, I've won the tournament. And I'm watching it roll down there. It looked really good. I thought -- three or four feet from the hole, I thought it was still going into the hole, and it broke off the last bit. That's a very tough green to putt. I guess it really didn't dawn on me that I could actually win the tournament today until that moment. I really thought the best I was going to do was a playoff.
 
Q. Lee, you were very emotional after that putt didn't go in. Could you share with us what you were feeling at that moment, and in the moments after that?
 
LEE JANZEN:I think I said it before, that to play as good as I played this week, and win the trophy that I wanted to win more than any other trophy, for the second time, was just -- it's too much. I really feel extremely lucky to even have the opportunity to play golf for a living, and to win the U.S. Open twice, you can't do anything better than that, as far as I'm concerned, for me. There are plenty of golfers who are better than me, but that's the best I can do.
 
Q. You were asked about your second shot on 17, but what about going to that tee knowing you double-bogeyed it two days in a row, and trying to keep a positive thought. What was going through your mind?
 
LEE JANZEN:The first time I hit a good drive and then a bad shot. Yesterday, I hit a good drive and good shot. I knew today, my strategy would be slightly different in that I would try to land the ball short of the green, if I had to, not go over. I knew short was better than big. I learned that yesterday. But I felt comfortable that I could hit good shots. I also thought that I -- I played it today under even tougher conditions.
 
Q. What was your initial reaction when you hit your approach on 11, and how surprised were you it kicked out of the rough?
 
LEE JANZEN:The wind was left-to-right, and I was waiting for the ball to curve to the right any minute and come down right around where the fringe was. But then it didn't. So I was prepared to hit the ball out of the rough, and while it's in the air, I'm seeing where it's coming down. I thought I had my work cut out for me, and then it kicked out.
 
Q. Lee, congratulations. All week long you've had a very positive attitude, where others have sort of griped here and there about the difficult conditions. Why do you think difficult conditions suit you so well? What appeals to you so much about a very difficult grind?
 
LEE JANZEN:I just think it was because I was fortunate enough to win the U.S. Open on a very difficult course, you just get in your mind that you can play difficult courses. After that, I felt more comfortable on hard courses. THE PLAYERS Championship is incredibly hard conditions. Winged Foot last year was very tough, and I had a good tournament. It just only gets better as time goes by. The confidence will be there always that I can play tough courses well.
 
Q. Someone informed Payne earlier that you stand between him and three U.S. Open championships. He said he guesses he brings out the best in you. Does he or the Open bring out the best in you?
 
LEE JANZEN:I think it's just pure coincidence that Payne Stewart was runner-up both times. I certainly wasn't thinking on Thursday night when he was thinking: Okay, I've got to step up my game, because if I can't step up my game, I don't know what I'm doing out here. There was no guarantee that he would be in the hunt Sunday. Our games are similar enough that our games do well on certain courses. I seem to think that sometimes I bring out the best in him, too. I've noticed at the PLAYERS Championship, I was leading the last round. He shot 65 the last day and went by me. I've also noticed other times when he shoots low scores, where my name is on the leaderboard. It might not be true at all, but I know it's a friendly competition, and Rocco Mediate -- I know he and I would admit, when we see each others names on the leaderboard it spurs us onto play better.
 
Q. How frustrating have the playoffs been in other years, especially where you had a chance to put one away, and some disastrous things happened to you?
 
LEE JANZEN:That was a great opportunity to put one away. I felt like I blew one at Vancouver, the first year they had the tournament there. And there's been some other tournaments I put myself in the hunt. Tucson twice, I birdied the last hole. I was frustrated. I didn't do better in the end, it doesn't mean you're going to win, but as long as you do your best, that's all you can ask for yourself. I played some poor golf in a situation that I always thought I'd do very well in. It was frustrating. I kept wondering, am I going to win again? I went four years in a row winning tournaments. And I think you have to take the attitude, I don't care how long it takes to win, I just know I'm going to win again, and I'll just work hard and get my game as good as I can. When the opportunity arises, I can take advantage of it.

Q. Lee, after your Open win in 1993, what expectations did you place on your future, and how might that be different the second time around?
 
LEE JANZEN:I think I was relatively inexperienced. Even winning the U.S. Open, I didn't know what to expect of myself, the demands and everything. Suddenly I become noticed. And my game fell off, maybe because I rose to a level I'd never been at, and it was hard to maintain that level. I feel like this year, I'm hitting the ball so much better than I ever have, I've always been a good putter, I put the two together this week, and if my game falls off, I think it will only be for a short time. Winning the U.S. Open, that's the pinnacle for me. It's easy to have a let down. I don't think my game is going to go in the tank. I think it's only going to give me confidence, and I look forward to seeing how I do. I look at it as a challenge to see if I can play this well again soon.
 
Q. Lee, not to get overly sentimental, but it is Father's Day, your dad is here, your son is here. As a father and a son, what's the most gratifying aspect of being a father, and also a son?
 
LEE JANZEN:I can say that every day I think I'm the luckiest father alive, to have a son like him. And when I think that about him, I think every father must feel that way about their son. And there's nothing better than being loved.
 
Q. Who gets the check?
 
LEE JANZEN:Uncle Sam.
 
Q. You said The Olympic Club is one of your top five, could you give us the other four?
 
LEE JANZEN:You notice I didn't give those four before. Pinehurst No. 2, next year; Pebble Beach, Augusta National and Shinnecock. Amazingly, you would think Baltusrol should be in the top five. It doesn't have to be your favorite to play well, it's a tie for 6th.
 
Q. Could you put into words why the U.S. Open is your favorite as opposed to The Masters or one of the other majors?
 
LEE JANZEN:It says United States Open on it. And being an American born golfer, I just know that it has more special meaning than any other majors. I remember watching it as a kid, and The Masters hasn't been around as long. This is our national championship. I think that The Masters is a shorter field, they don't let all the good players in. I'm not putting down how well you have to play to win The Masters, I just think this is the best to win.
 
Q. Could I ask you about your relationship with your caddy, David Musgrove, how it started?
 
LEE JANZEN:We don't like each other at all. Dave and I, he caddied for me the first time I played in the British Open. He also caddied for me in the Scottish Open. He's got a pretty thick accent. We went two weeks and I didn't understand the a word he said. But I thought he was the greatest caddy. At the end of '93 I felt the best thing I could do was hire David Musgrove, because of the experience he had, winning majors with Seve Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle, he could do nothing but help me. I've had a great time with David. A lot of people think he's serious, I joke more with anybody else that I've ever joked with on the golf course. He was big today. He was there ready to tell me to forget about 2 and 3, and just concentrate on good shots, and concentrate on the swing. This time it was perfect. He's right. And I knew it. He's got good advice at the right time. We like to argue once in a while, but we joke about it. I can't say enough about Dave. I hope he's having a great time, I don't know where he is.
 
Q. Lee, given when this victory took place and what's happened the last few years, is this Open championship more important than the first one for your career?
 
LEE JANZEN:I think so. I think it elevates what I've done to a whole new level. If I would have won just a regular Tour event for my 8th win, I don't know if it would have anywhere near the significance. I think it would this completely erases any bad tournaments or not winning for three years. I think that just negates it all. I now have eight wins, and just under nine years on Tour. I can't be too upset about not winning for three years.
 
Q. What was your thought process on No. 17? You just took the lead for the first time in the tournament coming off previous rounds of double bogeys, second and third round, did that cross your mind at all that maybe you were a little snake bit on that hole? And you just took the lead, did that cross your mind?
 
LEE JANZEN:I wasn't sure if I was leading or not, because I wasn't looking at the scoreboards. I felt like I was in pretty good shape, at least tied, just judging by the roars of the crowds. I hit a great drive there the last few days, and made double bogeys. I felt comfortable off the tee, but I was determined I was going to par that hole today. When I saw the ball kick left a little bit, landing short my second shot, I thought the ball was in front of the green, I thought I might have a reasonable birdie chance. But as it was I had a tough 2-putt, and I was happy to get done in two.
 
Q. I was wondering if you knew exactly where you were on the 18th green, where everything stood with all the buzz around there. And you would strike me as a guy who would study the boards out there, was this something new?
 
LEE JANZEN:Well, I usually do, but I know that sometimes like in this instance, with a chance to win it might affect me. And I believe I was tied playing the last hole when I was putting, I'm not sure. But I thought if I could make that putt I'd win that tournament there. And it wasn't a putt I charged, but I was trying to hit a good line with great speed. After I putted out, the short putt, I thought this could be it, this could be the putt that would win the U.S. Open. That's the last thing you want to say to yourself. But I made it, and right after I walked off the green, there was a big roar, and they put a plus one up for Payne, I think it was at the same time. Maybe on TV you probably knew that beforehand, but as far as watching the leaderboard that's the first I knew he had gone 1-over.
 
Q. Do you start thinking about being a great player now, is that something you guard against or is that something you let yourself think about?
 
LEE JANZEN:I guess it's all in your interpretation of what it takes to be a great player. I think anybody who has won a U.S. Open, won a major, and I don't think -- I look at the other players and think how great that is to do that. I still don't put myself in the same categories as other guys. But I marvel at how well the guys play, week in and week out, some performances that are put on out here. Most weeks we probably go to the locker room on Sunday thinking if I had done this or that I could have won. And then there's just some guys that play unbelievably well. I think Davis, at the PGA, he shot 11 under. And that's just truly a great performance. When a guy puts that up, you don't have much of a chance. Fortunately for me, I haven't run up against that on my best weeks.
 
More Transcripts from Past U.S. Open Champions
Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

"The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).


Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

“Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.