Fleetwood is the man to beat, says 'confident' McIlroy

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In the gusts, Abu Dhabi Golf Club is far from straightforward but, with a peerless ball-striking display, Fleetwood produced the surge, allowing his putter to create the magic. Luckily enough, I was playing well and I had a chance to win, and the back nine was a very special nine holes. He made six birdies, including one on the closing 18th hole, to edge Fisher.

The Briton, who cruised home in 30 strokes for a tournament total of 22-under-par 266, was two strokes clear of overnight leader Ross Fisher while four-times major victor Rory McIlroy was tied third alongside Matt Fitzpatrick on 18-under.

Fisher (69) started the day in impressive fashion with an eagle on the second hole, courtesy a 45-feet putt and was four-under at the turn.

Ross Fisher battled hard, and a birdie at the 16 get him back to -20, having dropped a shot on the par three 15.

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: In Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Jerry Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a one-shot victory with an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 6-under 66 to win the Mitsubishi Electric Championship on Saturday in the season opener.

Rory McIlroy closed with a 70 to share third place with Matthew Fitzpatrick, two shots adrift of Fisher, and the Northern Irishman said he was pleased with his first event since calling an early end to his injury-plagued and winless season in October a year ago. I thought he looked great.

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It was the 27-year-old's fourth European Tour victory and came just two months after he was crowned the 2017 Race to Dubai champion.

"My health and my golf are in a much better place than they were in October, and I'm excited about Dubai this week, and the rest of the year".

As this was McIlroy's seventh top-three in Abu Dhabi in his last eight appearances, he could have been forgiven for asking himself how he will ever get over the line there. "If I could make the world's top 10 that would be very cool". I had the year of my life last year.

A run of four pars followed with the fatal error coming at the 15th with a second bogey of the day. "I think I played pretty good today", he said. "I don't feel like I've lost a tournament, because Tommy's gone out there and shot 65 and he's won it, so all credit to him".

Tommy has been playing well for a long time, and he's the guy to beat in Europe right now.