Rickie Fowler claims victory at Abu Dhabi as Spieth and McIlroy rue poor performances

Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were left wondering about what might have been

Ricky Fowler, Abu Dhabi, Rory McIlroy

Rickie Fowler of the United States reacts tees off at the 14th hole during the round one of Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Image: Martin Dokoupil / AP/Press Association Images

Rickie Fowler has won the European Tour Golf event in Abu Dhabi, and moved up to fourth in the world rankings in the process. 

The American's final round of 69 gave him a one shot win, and speaking to Nick Dye after the event, he recognised that he had started 2016 off in the perfect fashion. 

"This is a big one. To come back and work on getting back in the winner's circle after a successful season and keep moving forward, this is a great start". 

Having started off poorly, he stated that he had to put in a great performance to end up as the winner on Sunday, saying "I had to just find my way around the course, make a couple of putts to kind of keep the momentum going. That's something I did Saturday [...] just kind of hung on and made sure I didn't take myself out of the event".

While he acknowledged that it was a perfect way to begin the year, he added that "hopefully this is just a start". 

Rory McIlroy, who ended up tied for third two strokes off the pace, said that he simply didn't do enough on the day: "I gave myself a lot of work to do going into the last 18 holes, I just didn't quite have it today. 68 was the best I could have done out there with the places that I hit, I don't think I hit a shot from the fairway today until the ninth hole. If you're putting yourself out of position like that it's going to be very hard to score". 

Image: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after missing a putt on the ninth green during round three of the fog-delayed Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Martin Dokoupil / AP/Press Association Images

McIlroy added that he will be left this week with a sense of "what might have been. I played a very, very average 18 holes [...] in a tournament like this you just can't do that". 

Jordan Spieth, who finished in joint fifth, similarly felt that he wasn't up to scratch this week, something he was discussing with his caddie Michael Greller: "I felt like we were off this week, and we were off this week. I didn't make anything, I didn't give myself a lot of chances the first couple of rounds, and when I did have chances they just wouldn't go". 

Image: Martin Dokoupil / AP/Press Association Images

However, despite being on the European tour, he added that he felt as though he was at home this past week, saying "it felt like a normal PGA tour week in my mind. Sorry if that insults people on either side of the pond [...] it just felt like another week, we just happened to be somewhere outside the US".