Matt Fitzpatrick enjoys 'great start to the year' with runner-up finish at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Englishman finishes two shots behind champion Lee Westwood after a final round 67

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Paul Radley and John McAuley: Matthew Fitzpatrick tees off on the 8th hole on the 4th and final day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships. Sunday, January 19th, 2020. Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Another Rolex Series event, another fine performance from Matt Fitzpatrick.

The Englishman, 25, seems to really enjoy the European Tour’s upgraded tournaments, coming home tied-2nd at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA on Sunday to continue a trend.

Last year, as the season drew to a close, Fitzpatrick was runner-up in Italy, 10th at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and ninth at the DP World Tour Championship, a tournament he won in 2016, before the Rolex Series was introduced.

Working along those lines, his strong display in Abu Dhabi shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Beginning Sunday two behind leader Lee Westwood, Fitzpatrick matched the eventual winner’s 67 and thus had to share second with Tommy Fleetwood and Victor Perez.

However, although so near to European Tour win No 6, Fitzpatrick departed the capital in high spirits.

“It was good,” he said. “Apart from one missed putt, wouldn't take a shot back. And to come off the golf course, that's a great feeling. Despite not enough to win, it's been a great week.”

A first event of the new season, Fitzpatrick has come out of the blocks faster than he probably expected. Typically a prodigious putter, it was his struggles on the greens coming in on Sunday that derailed his chances of the title.

He birdied four on the front to race into contention, but didn't manage another until the very last hole.

“Just couldn't make a thing on the back nine,” he said. “Just one of those days, but hey, that's golf. I'm delighted. It's a great start to the year, and you're always a little bit nervous after taking so much time off.

“So to come back and play as well as I have done is a positive.”

Perez echoed the sentiment.

“I felt I had a really good off-season preparing for 2020, and obviously very pleased in the first event of the year,” said the Frenchman following a final-day 63 - the joint-best on Sunday. “I’m delighted.”


Best photos from final round in Abu Dhabi