Tommy Fleetwood produced a stunning birdie-birdie finish to hold off the challenge of Rory McIlroy and Thriston Lawrence and win the Dubai Invitational.
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 was in store.
While those around him produced fireworks, Fleetwood was a picture of consistency, but 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.
The victory is Fleetwood’s third in the UAE after claiming two wins in Abu Dhabi and follows a second-place finish at the 2023 season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
A first win since the 2022 Nedbank Golf Challenge also moves Fleetwood to the top of the International Swing Rankings, to fourth in the Race to Dubai Rankings and could take him as high as 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I’m very happy,” said Dubai resident 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 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.
“I was very happy with the way I played today for the large majority of the round, 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 and McIlroy both got up and down from the sand for a birdie on the driveable par-four 3rd and while they missed out on the gettable next, Fleetwood hit a stunning tee-shot to six feet at the 5th, with McIlroy also making a gain from twice that distance.
Fleetwood led by two after McIlroy found water on the 6th and a stunning bunker shot on the par-five 10th kept the leader ticking over but two birdies after the turn moved Lawrence into contention.
The 27-year-old had driven up to the front of the 3rd and got up and down and then made a two-putt gain on the 4th before putting an approach to 11 feet at the 6th.
A smart up-and-down brought another birdie on the 10th and a ten-footer on the 12th meant he was two back and we had a three-horse race.
McIlroy then launched a booming drive down the 11th and put his second to three feet to get back within two before holing from 30 feet on the 12th to sit in solo second.
Lawrence holed from 32 feet on the 14th to join the four-time Major champion at 17 under but McIlroy birdied the 13th after a smart lay-up to join the lead, only to three-putt the 14th from two feet and leave Fleetwood alone at the summit.
McIlroy bounced straight back from 20 feet at the 15th and with Lawrence hitting a stunner into the 17th and holing from nine feet, there was a three-way tie.
Lawrence parred the last to sign for a 64 and set the target at 18 under, with Fleetwood dropping out of the lead for the first time all day when he failed to get up and down on the 16th.
A stunning approach from McIlroy to five feet at the 17th piled on the pressure but Fleetwood holed from 30 feet and two birdies set the scene for late drama and a two-shot swing on the last.
Smith made an eagle and four birdies in his 66, while Italian Molinari looked back to is very best, starting his round with four birdies and adding another five on the back nine in a 63.
American Sean Crocker and in-form South African Zander Lombard finished at 14 under, two shots clear of Dane Thorbjørn Olesen and German Yannik Paul.
– Report from DP World Tour website
Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images