Englishman led by three shots as they turned for home before Tommy Fleetwood plays back nine in 30 shots to retain Falcon Trophy
'I don't feel like I've lost a tournament,' says Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship runner-up Ross Fisher
Ross Fisher saw a four-shot lead slip from his grasp in a dramatic final round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.
But the Englishman said his runner-up finish at the National Course was down to the excellence of the eventual winner, Tommy Fleetwood, rather than any failing of his own.
Fisher was five shots ahead of the defending champion as he turned for home, at which point Rory McIlroy, by then three shots back, appeared his most likely challenger.
While he proceeded to come back in a 1-over par 37, Fleetwood singed the course, using just 30 strokes over the back nine of Round 4.
“I don't feel like I've lost a tournament,” Fisher said, having finished on 20-under par, two shots off Fleetwood’s winning total. “Tommy's gone out there and shot 65, and he's won it, so all credit to him.”
After three days of flat calm, strong winds arrived to test the players at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Sunday.
Fisher’s immediate response to the inclement conditions was formidable, stretching a lead he had shared at the start of the day with Thomas Pieters, his playing partner, to four by the time he had reached the eighth.
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.
His progress was stunted by an errant tee shot at the 10th, which was pushed further left into the wasteland by the strong cross breeze.
He was reliant on a fine putt to keep the damage to nothing worse than a bogey, on a hole that was potentially a good chance to score.
“The wind was blowing, the greens were getting firmer and faster,” Fisher said. “And then you've only got to look at the quality of the leaderboard.
“It was always going to be tricky. The wind was strong. It was gusty, it was left-to-right, it was helping, it was into. It was tricky.
“At 4-under after nine, I wouldn't say [I was] cruising, but I was in control of my game.
“I think I might have been a couple ahead, so I figured, right, I need to knuckle down and play a good, solid back nine. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as solid.”
Pieters, the other player in the final match out on course, shot an even-par 72 to finish five shots behind Fleetwood.
It meant the towering Belgian added a tied-fifth finish in Abu Dhabi to his second place in 2016, and fourth in 2015.
“Without the wind, I played good, and in the wind, I didn't play that good,” Pieters said.
“So I have got to work on the swing a little bit, but other than that, there are a lot of positives.”
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:
- Round 4 live updates: Tommy Fleetwood beats Ross Fisher to retain title
- Rory McIlroy to head up the road to Dubai with 'game in good shape' after tied third in Abu Dhabi
- World No 1 Dustin Johnson admits he did not have 'his best stuff' in Abu Dhabi