Desert delight for Westwood as evergreen Englishman lands Abu Dhabi title

By John Skilbeck 19 January 2020 3
Desert delight for Westwood as evergreen Englishman lands Abu Dhabi title

Lee Westwood held off a final-round charge from birthday boy Tommy Fleetwood to take victory in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Englishman scooped his 25th European Tour title, and first since triumphing at the Nedbank Challenge in November 2018, as a five-under-par 67 took him to 19 under for the week.

Fleetwood and Frenchman Victor Perez finished off with rounds of 63 for a share of second place with Matthew Fitzpatrick, who had a 67, but it was Westwood's day as he finished two clear.

With his 47th birthday approaching in April, this performance in the desert was a timely reminder of Westwood's enduring class, and it means he has scored European Tour wins in four decades, having first made his mark in the 1990s.

He held a one-shot lead overnight from Bernd Wiesberger and Francesco Laporta, but neither man challenged on the final day, falling back to eighth and a share of 17th respectively after rounds of 72 and 74.

Instead it was Westwood's compatriot Fleetwood and Perez mounting an assault, the latter helped by an eagle at the par-five 18th.

They came close, but Westwood held his nerve at the last by making his third birdie on the 18th of the week to guarantee his success.

When reminded about his career longevity in a European Tour interview, Westwood said: "It's been a good week. I can't believe I'm that old! It's getting harder."

Westwood is set to climb into the world's top 30, having started the week in 63rd, and a Ryder Cup ticket could be coming his way.

"I'm not sure I can take any more Ryder Cups," he said. "I've played 10 and it was good watching the lads last time.

"Obviously if there's a chance of that I might as well go for it. But it's just nice to keep proving that you've still got it."

Fleetwood was bidding to win this event for a third time after consecutive successes in 2017 and 2018, and on his 29th birthday it was a stunning effort to get close to Westwood.

He said: "Every week we play, somebody's going to play great golf, and at the moment that's Lee, but I'm very, very happy with my weekend. I feel like I played some really, really good golf.

"It was nice getting the juices flowing on the last few, knowing that I could post a score."

South African Louis Oosthuizen had a 66 to take fifth on 15 under, with his countryman Shaun Norris going one better with a 65 for a share of sixth with England's Ross Fisher, who closed out his week with a 67 score.

Martin Kaymer signed off with a 65 and Sergio Garcia had a 70 as the former major winners tied with Wiesberger and Scotland's Scott Jamieson for eighth on 13 under.

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