Tommy Fleetwood's Abu Dhabi win and why your first golf coach is like your first love

Sam Torrance
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Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship - Day Four
Fleetwood's win was his first for more than three years (Source: Getty)

I always think that your first golf coach is a little like your first love; they know about your game and how you have developed better than anyone else.

After his first win for three and a half years, Tommy Fleetwood may agree with that sentiment.

His success at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Sunday comes after a period of steady improvement since he reunited with his former mentor Alan Thompson in August.

Read more: Storm blown away as win caps stunning turnaround in fortunes

The 26-year-old from Southport had slipped to 188 in the world rankings last summer.

Now, after top-20 finishes in 10 of the last 13 events, he is back up to 53.

Fleetwood looked so surprised to win in Abu Dhabi but he played beautifully to end with a 67, finish on 17 under par and hold off the charge of US Open champion Dustin Johnson and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal.

He stood up to the test well when the pressure was on, playing a fantastic second shot from 300 yards at the 18th hole, where he ended up making a decisive birdie.

Fleetwood was part of the Great Britain and Ireland team that I captained at the Seve Trophy in 2013. He was a quiet, unassuming lad but very dedicated and a hard worker.

This win leaves him just short of the top-50 ranking needed to qualify for all the Majors and World Golf Championship events; his next target will be to claim that golden ticket and a Masters debut.

It was a disappointing last round for Tyrrell Hatton. The runner-up at last year’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai led overnight but started badly and was always struggling after that.

Only a win will do for Tiger

Johnson, meanwhile, finished with an eagle to share second place with Larrazabal, just one shot behind Fleetwood.

The American, who was sixth earlier this month at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, is a world class player and has started the year strongly.

He is one of a number of leading players at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, San Diego, along with world No1 Jason Day, Phil Mickelson – and of course Tiger Woods.

Tiger had fun at his own tournament, the Hero World Challenge, last month, when he made more birdies than any player in the field on his comeback from persistent back problems.

But this is the real deal. He’ll have to stand up and be counted, and anything less than winning the title for an eighth time won’t be considered a good week.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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