Winning feels amazing, says Fleetwood as he steals victory from McIlroy at Dubai Invitational

The Dubai resident’s double birdie burst at the Dubai Creek Resort gives him a third success in the UAE

By Nick Tarratt, Khaleej Times Guest Golf Writer

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Dubai resident Tommy Fleetwood enjoys the moment after winning the 2024 Dubai Invitational at Dubai Creek Resort. -  @officialtommyfleetwood
Dubai resident Tommy Fleetwood enjoys the moment after winning the 2024 Dubai Invitational at Dubai Creek Resort. - @officialtommyfleetwood

Published: Sun 14 Jan 2024, 7:53 PM

Dubai resident Tommy Fleetwood produced a stunning birdie-birdie finish to hold off the challenge of world number two golfer Rory McIlroy and Thriston Lawrence, to win the $2.5 million Dubai Invitational, the first tournament on the DP World Tour’s 2024 schedule.

The Englishman entered the final day at Dubai Creek Resort with a one-shot lead and with McIlroy his nearest challenger, a mouthwatering head-to-head two-ball between the Ryder Cup teammates was all but guaranteed.

While those around him produced fireworks, Fleetwood was a picture of consistency, although he dropped out of the lead for the first time with a bogey on the 16th.

He was still one back on the 18th tee after he and McIlroy both birdied the penultimate hole. But as the Northern Irishman found the water and made a bogey, Fleetwood holed from 16 feet for a 67, a 19 under total and a seventh DP World Tour title.

South African Lawrence finished alongside McIlroy at 18 under, two clear of England's Jordan Smith and three ahead of 2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinari from Italy.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts on the 7th hole during the final round of the Dubai Invitational. - AP
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts on the 7th hole during the final round of the Dubai Invitational. - AP

The Invitational victory is Fleetwood's third in the UAE after claiming two wins in Abu Dhabi and it follows a second-place finish at the 2023 season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

A first win since the 2022 Nedbank Golf Challenge also moves Fleetwood to the top of the DP World Tour’s International Swing Rankings, to fourth in the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex and could take him as high as 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) - depending on tournament results around the world later today.

“I'm very happy,” said Fleetwood. “It was amazing winning. Like almost everybody else in the world of golf, I don't win anywhere near as much as I would like to but just that winning feeling is great.

“This is obviously where I live and have a lot of support. It's great to kick off the year with a great result and push on from here.

“I feel like I've been saying for a long time that I've been doing a lot of really great things. I have amazing people that I'm working with, win, lose or draw today. Next week will be the same. We just crack on and we keep pushing forward and hopefully keep moving in the right direction,” said the man from Merseyside in North West England.

“I was very happy with the way I played today for the large majority of the round, although I felt like I didn't hole some of the putts that I wanted to.

“I just stayed patient and kept playing. I knew I was playing very, very well, and even the last two holes, played 17 and 18 great,” Fleetwood added.

McIlroy, who led for the first two days of the event, took a philosophical approach to his one-shot defeat and said: "First week back out, I think you have to expect some of those sloppy mistakes. Unfortunately for me, some of those mistakes came at the wrong time," McIlroy said.

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Next week sees Fleetwood and McIlroy both competing in the HERO Dubai Desert Classic – a Rolex Series event at Emirates Golf Club, where Mcilroy is the defending champion as well as a three-time champion. The tournament boasts a purse of $9 million.

Final Results

(7,059 Yards, Par 71).

Fleetwood (Eng) 66. 69. 63. 67. 265.

McIlroy (NI) 62. 70. 67. 67. 266.

Lawrence (RSA) 65. 70. 67. 64. 266.

Smith (Eng) 68. 67. 67. 66. 268.

Molinari (It) 68. 70. 68. 63. 269.

Crocker (US) 67. 70. 66. 67. 270.

Lombard (RSA) 67. 68. 67. 68. 270


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