Fleetwood rallies for Abu Dhabi title


England's Tommy Fleetwood authored a back-nine 31 to rally for a one-shot victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Fleetwood was 1 over through seven holes Sunday and still three shots adrift when he made the turn. But a chip-in eagle on No. 10 sparked a run that saw the 26-year-old pass an elite field. After starting the day one shot behind Martin Kaymer and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Fleetwood shot a final-round 67 to edge Dustin Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal and earn his first European Tour win since August 2013.

"It's pretty cool. Didn't see it coming, really," Fleetwood said. "I think I've made the cut here once in six years, so it just shows that that makes no sense at all. A lot of hard work's gone into it."

The shot of the tournament came on the 72nd hole, where Fleetwood was not punished for a wayward drive. Instead, he was afforded a favorable lie in the rough from which he hit driver off the deck, setting up a two-putt birdie that proved to be the difference.

"I did get a lucky break, but it's just one of those shots you have to take on," he said. "I had to give it a go. You have to take those chances if you want to win."

Fleetwood had been on the cusp of the top 50 in the world ranking as recently as December 2014, but his game fell on hard times in recent months as he fell as low as No. 188 in the world. Things started to turn around last summer, and Fleetwood's victory caps a run of 10 top-20 finishes in his last 13 worldwide starts.

"I had a really tough time from July 2015 to July last year, where I really struggled with my game," he said. "From August onward it's been an onward curve, had some good finishes toward the end of last year. Started the season well in Hong Kong. The only thing left was, 'Let's get a win,' and if you keep knocking on the door, it'll come."