McIlroy Happy With Return In Abu Dhabi

McIlroy Happy With Return In Abu Dhabi

Two days after being handed a 27th birthday cake by Rory McIlroy and just over a month since he was married, Fleetwood stormed home with six inward half birdies to win by two shots all thanks to a round 66 to win by two shots at 22-under par.

"It's something I've been working on, trying to not be so one-dimensional", McIlroy said. It's a great start to the year. I've lost a bit of fat and I've put on a bit of muscle.

Rory McIlroy may have been something of a forgotten man during his injury-riddled 2017 season, but the fit and self-assured golfer who kicked off his 2018 season with a robust T3 finish in the Middle East has a message for his peers: I'm back, baby.

The former World No. 1 finished T-3.

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"I didn't really know what my expectations were coming into this week", McIlroy said.

"Last year I had the year of my life and it was important to come out and show I was still hungry and doing the right things", Fleetwood said, after hugging his wife Clare and their baby, Frankie.

Fleetwood, 28, seemed overwhelmed by his victory. I think he'll win a couple of times this year, easily. A year ago I felt like I had a lot of in-between clubs a lot of times, but it was more just me not being comfortable taking something off a club or trying to hit one a little bit harder.

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"Now I get to keep it for another year, which is great".

"So all in all, it was another great round and another really good confidence builder - not just for this week but for the rest of the season, as well". "If I could make the world's top 10 that would be very cool". It's good to prove to yourself that you're still moving forward.

"I've done that, and I've played pretty well and feel like I did everything I wanted to do".

But he had to settle for yet another top three finish here. - he has been runner-up four times and third on three more occasions in his last eight visits.

Overnight joint leader, Belgium's Thomas Pieters (72), and England's Chris Paisley (69), victor of last week's South African Open, were tied fifth at 17-under 271. McIlroy's 70 meant a share of third with Matt Fitzpatrick at minus 18.

The least of Fleetwood's ambition will be to retain the European Tour order of merit title he won past year, and he is on the brink of the world's top 10.

And he would love to go one better this year. He certainly knows how to celebrate.

"Hats off to Tommy".