Rory McIlroy 'in a better place' after return to action

23 January 2018, 01:37 | Kristine Mills

The Englishman finished on 22 under par two shots ahead of compatriot Ross Fisher

The Englishman finished on 22 under par two shots ahead of compatriot Ross Fisher

Hours after Garcia captured the Asian Tour's Singapore Open, Fleetwood celebrated his 27th birthday in successfully defending his Abu Dhabi HSBC title while Rahm has made it three wins for Europe on the day also golf's greatest-ever player Jack Nicklaus celebrated his 78th birthday. Bogey on the par-5 10th, which could have easily turned into double if not for a 25-foot bogey putt, stalled his progress.

Fleetwood was just one under for his final round at the turn and trailing leader Ross Fisher by five shots, but Fisher stuttered over the back nine as the defending champion piled on the pressure with a barrage of birdies. He picked up another shot on 18, which proved to be a luxury cushion when Fisher failed to make birdies on 17 and 18.

"I feel a lot more emotional than a year ago", admitted the victor. I dont know why.

He made six birdies, including one on the closing 18th hole, to edge out Fisher. He won the Race To Dubai and was named number one in Europe past year. "Really happy with that, and yeah, just looking forward to getting back at it again next week and trying to put myself in contention again". "If I could make the world's top 10 that would be very cool".

"I'll have to think about it if I've played better, but I played great". It was just a case of scoring being tough, and we had to keep going.

Fisher eagled the second to grab the outright lead in the group behind McIlroy while in the group ahead Fleetwood looked to be treading water with two birdies and a bogey over the outward nine.

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Fisher, who came close to winning two big tournaments late past year (Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and Italian Open) before finishing second, complimented Fleetwood on his strong finish.

But the Englishman said his runner-up finish at the National Course was down to the excellence of the eventual victor, Tommy Fleetwood, rather than any failing of his own. I really wanted to win this. "He's gone out there and shot 65 and he's won it, so all credit to him".

His run started when he drained a huge eagle putt at the par-5 second, while he also birdied the front nine's two par-3s.

"It just felt great to get another tournament under my belt". I have no complaints.

The reigning European No. 1 handled the desert winds that blew over Abu Dhabi Golf Club better than the rest of the field to earn the $500,000 first place check.

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