Weekend winners: Fowler beats stellar field and Dufner’s backJanuary, 2016
American up to number four in the world
European Tour: Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – Rickie Fowler
This was a second European Tour title for Fowler after he chipped in twice in the final round for a 69 and a one-shot win over the hugely talented Thomas Pieters.
The new World No 4 led by three going into the delayed final round after three birdies in the final seven holes of his third round. He then continued in the same fashion with back-to-back birdies to get his fourth round going but then, after just three bogeys all week, threw in a double-bogey five at the short 7th after a spot of bother in same waste ground. One hole later he got back the shots with a holed bunker shot.
Ian Poulter looked to be his nearest challenger early on but his game then unravelled and Alejandro Canizares, Pieters, Henrik Stenson and latterly Rory McIlroy, who played the last seven holes in five under, including a closing eagle for the second time this week, then came at Fowler.
But the 27-year-old American held firm and chipped in at the 17th to give himself some breathing space. A par was then good enough at the last as Pieters missed his eagle three by a whisker.
This was a second American victory in the event, the first was Chris DiMarco who claimed the inaugural title in 2006. World No 1 Jordan Spieth admitted that he was ‘off all week’ but still tied for fifth after weekend 68s and he will now head to Singapore.
What Fowler said: “On seven I made a bad swing, so kind of deserved a little bit of a penalty there. I got a bit of a bad break having a boulder underneath the ball there. So nothing I can really do about that.
“At the next I hit a great drive, got it up there just short and hit a perfect bunker shot.My caddie responded with, ‘you know, golf is funny that way’. I said, ‘well, you flip them, two pars in a row’.”
PGA Tour: CareerBuilder Challenge – Jason Dufner
The 38-year-old Dufner won for the fourth time and the first since the 2013 PGA Championship after outlasting David Lingmerth in a play-off. The Swede, who closed with a 65, found the water at the 18th to gift Dufner the title.
Both players finished on 25 under and Dufner will look back on a stroke of luck at the 71st hole in helping him to finally land another victory. He pulled an 8-iron and thought it was wet only to find it in a sandy area in among the rocks. His hooked chip then struck the flag and stopped inches away.
On the first extra hole Dufner holed from 11 feet to save par and then Lingmerth found a grass bunker, and then the rocks and finally the water.
Phil Mickelson shot a 68 to tie for third in his first start since The Presidents Cup in October and first since splitting with swing coach Butch Harmon to work with Andrew Getson.
What Dufner said (of the 17th): “I was like, ‘Man, this is a great break I’m going to take advantage of it. `This is what I need. I need this right now. I need this break to happen. I’m confident with what I can do with this shot and I need to make this happen and get a par.’
“It’s a shot that I’ve hit some, not in the hazard, but something similar. You kind of hit that low little spinning one with some check on it.”