Rickie Fowler closes gap on world No1 Jordan Spieth with victory in Abu Dhabi

Rickie Fowler tees off on his way to winning the Abu Dhabi Championship (Picture: Martin Dokoupi).
Rickie Fowler tees off on his way to winning the Abu Dhabi Championship (Picture: Martin Dokoupi).
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RICKIE FOWLER produced two moments of magic to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Sunday and climb to fourth in the world rankings.

After completing a flawless 65 in the delayed third round on Sunday morning, Fowler carded a closing 69 to finish a shot ahead of Belgium's Thomas Pieters, with Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson a shot further back in third.

Fowler took a two-shot lead into the final round and looked firmly on course for victory when he birdied the first two holes to double his advantage, only to run up a double bogey on the seventh after thinning his second shot from a sandy waste area across the green.

Moments later, Spain's Alejandro Canizares holed from 25 feet for birdie on the 10th to cut Fowler's lead to a single shot, only for Fowler to hole out from a greenside bunker on the par-5 eighth for an eagle.

A run of eight straight pars allowed the chasing pack, led initially by playing partner Pieters, to get within a shot, with Stenson then carding three birdies in the last four holes and McIlroy playing his last seven holes in five under, including an eagle from 35 feet on the last.

However, Fowler responded by chipping in for a birdie on the 17th to take a two-shot lead up the 18th, the 27-year-old then breathing a massive sigh of relief when Pieters agonisingly missed his eagle attempt to potentially force a play-off.

This left Fowler to two-putt for par and claim his second European Tour title after his victory in the Scottish Open at Gullane last July, with world No 1Jordan Spieth finishing joint fifth after carding his third 68 of the week.

Sheffield's Matt Fitzpatrick finished tied 26th (68 71 73 70), another Sheffielder, Danny Willett, shared 54th (75 68 69 74) and Malton's Simon Dyson placed equal 61st (69 72 74 72).

All three started their final round at the 10th, and British Masters champion Fitzpatrick had four birdies in his 'outward' nine, which included three in a row from the 16th.

However, he gave back two of the shots gained with bogeys at three and five.

Willett had work to do after a double bogey at 12 was followed by a bogey at 15.

He began his second nine with a birdie at the first, and closed it in similar fashion, but also suffered a bogey at the seventh hole.

Dyson, like Fitzpatrick, enjoyed his opening nine, carding birdies at the 10th, 13th and 16th.

He had another at the first to dip to four under for the day, but after a double bogey at the fourth dropped two more shots, one at each of the seventh and ninth holes.