World No4 Rickie Fowler is targeting the Masters winner’s Green Jacket and regular battles with golf’s big three after beating an illustrious field to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships on Sunday.
Fowler’s final round of 68 left him on 16 under par, enough to beat Belgian youngster Thomas Pieters by a single shot with four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson tied for third, a further stroke adrift.
World No1 Jordan Spieth – who makes up the men’s top three along with Jason Day and McIlroy – was in a six-strong group who tied for fifth after his third 68 of the week took him to 11 under.
Fowler was put under pressure by the star-studded pack but he re-established a two-shot lead with a chipped birdie at 17 and clinched his second European Tour title with a par putt.
“I’d like to jump in and be a part of that crew and see if we can continue to win some majors,” he said of his hopes of challenging Spieth, Day and McIlroy.
“The goal right now with where my game’s at – the best it’s been this early in the season in my career – I’m working on getting ready for Augusta. And I’d like to have my shot at getting the Green Jacket there. The ultimate goal this year is to go win a major and this is a step in the right direction for sure.”
The 27-year-old’s fourth tournament victory in nine months, since winning The Players Championship – the so-called fifth major – lifted him two places in the world rankings.
Pieters, 23, came within inches of forcing a play-off when his eagle attempt fell just short at the last hole.
McIlroy finished his first event of the year by picking up five shots over the last seven holes, including an eagle at 18.
Stenson, still recuperating from knee surgery, closed with three birdies in four holes.