American Rickie Fowler won the most competitive tournament of his young career, using a final-round 69 to edge Thomas Pieters by one stroke to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in UAE on Sunday.
Fowler overcame a double-bogey 5 on No. 7 by eagling the next hole and scoring a clutch birdie on No. 17. Pieters narrowed it back to a stroke with a birdie on 18 and couldn’t have done much more, recording a bogey-free 67.
“This was a big one,” Fowler said. “Last year having a multiple-win season, to come back and work on getting in the winner’s circle after a successful season and keep moving forward. This is a great start.”
It was anyone’s tournament coming down the stretch, as No. 5 Henrik Stenson and No. 3 Rory McIlroy both made late charges as well to finish two strokes shy of the top at 14-under.
Stenson was undone only by a second-round 72; McIlroy by back-to-back 70s. On Sunday, the Swede shot a 67 and the Northern Irishman a 68. McIlroy has now finished second, tied for second, and third here in the last three years.
World No. 1 Jordan Spieth shot his second straight 68 on Sunday to finish tied for fifth at 11-under in his Abu Dhabi debut.
With the win, Fowler climbs from sixth to a career high fourth in the Official World Golf Rankings. He’s just the second American to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, following Chris DiMarco in the tournament’s inaugural year of 2006.