A birdie blitz on the back nine helped Italian Francesco Laporta card a superb nine-under 63 on Friday to take a one-shot lead in the Abu Dhabi Championship, while world number one Brooks Koepka slid down the leaderboard after a disappointing second round. "It was a great day", Laporta said.
"I played better on the back nine, primarily because those two huge putts made the biggest difference, but I mean, we've played here before".
Fitzpatrick is already there and was happy to start the year with a solid performance, he added: "Before the new one, I felt I could break through everything and I managed to putt for the peer, which was nice to keep some momentum". I think everybody does because it is such a great way to start the year.
Sergio Garcia finished six off Westwood to come tied for eighth alongside Austria's Bernd Wiesberger, who was in the running overnight with Italian Francesco Laporta, but both men endured hard final days.
Fleetwood, on his 29th birthday, carded a final round of nine under to finish on 17 under, but fell just short of winning the event for a third time. To be in the lead with one round to go, it's a real positive.
"I'm not going to lie, I didn't play a lot of golf coming into it, didn't know what to expect".
Discussing his fondness for Abu Dhabi, Fleetwood stated: "I always love playing here".
"But you know, obviously if there's a chance of that, then I might as well go for it".
Further birdies followed on the ninth and 12th and while he dropped a shot on the 14th, Westwood hit a stunning approach into the 16th and made the most of the par-five last.
"Fantastic, really. Ecstatic, elated, a bit emotional", said Westwood of how felt about landing a second Rolex Series success, having also won the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa at the end of the 2018 season.
Sergio Garcia, Li Haotong and first-round leader Renato Paratore were two shots off the pace on 8 under.
Perez joined Fleetwood with a final round of 63 to finish second, while Louis Oosthuizen finished fifth with 15 points. It's Koepka's first tournament since October, when he aggravated a knee injury which caused him to miss the Presidents Cup.
The four-time Major victor made a birdie, birdie start before dropping three shots in three holes, after a double bogey at the fifth.