Thomas Pieters held his nerve in the final round to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as overnight leader Scott Jamieson and other contenders fell away on Sunday.

The Belgian secured his sixth DP World Tour title with an even round of 72 to end the tournament on 10-under par, one shot ahead of Rafa Cabrera Bello and Shubhankar Sharma.

Pieters began the day tied for second but showed impressive control to card 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey, though was reliant on Cabrera Bello bogeying the 15th and 16th holes to edge ahead of the Spaniard.

Jamieson took a one-shot lead into the final day but produced seven bogeys in a five-over round of 77 to slip down to a joint-10th finish, while Shane Lowry also had a day to forget as he too hit 77 to drop 10 places to joint-12th.

The best rounds of the final day came from Adri Arnaus and Henrik Stenson who both carded seven-under rounds of 65, but both were already too far off the pace to trouble the leaders.

Tyrell Hatton managed a respectable round of 67 to climb to a final position of joint-sixth, while Rory McIlroy ended tied for 12th as his last round of 69 left him on a final score of five-under.

Pieters - who turns 30 next week - becomes the first Belgian to win a Rolex Series event, and hopes that his performance can inspire young golfers in his home country.

"I was well in control of my ball all day," he said after sealing victory. "The putting wasn't maybe there.

"I just hope all the juniors back at home are watching this. I used to watch as a kid and think it was impossible for me but then Nico [Colsaerts] came on the scene and started winning.

"It's stuff like that that inspires kids and hopefully I can do that back home."

Scott Jamieson will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after just about keeping the chasing pack at bay on Saturday.

The Scot was at one stage leapfrogged by Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters as they produced blemish-free rounds of 67 to move to 10 under par.

Jamieson dropped a shot at the 14th but responded with birdies on the next and final holes to finish on 68, putting him at 11 under after three rounds.

Viktor Hovland is three strokes behind, as is Shubhankar Sharma, who followed a double bogey at the sixth with an eagle at the par-five seventh hole as he carded a 67 for the day.

Ian Poulter, James Morrison and Rafa Cabrera-Bello are at seven under, a stroke ahead of Andrea Pavan and Adam Scott, while there is a six-way tie on five under. Rory McIlroy, who just made the cut on Friday, produced his best round of the tournament – a 67 – to move to two under par.

After holding onto his lead under pressure from Friday's windy conditions and the pressure of his rivals in round three, Jamieson is determined to keep his focus as he targets a first European Tour title since winning the Nelson Mandela Championship in a play-off against Eduardo de la Riva and Steve Webster in December 2012.

"It would be massive, a game-changer to win a tournament of this stature," he said. "There's definitely been some great champions here and there's an awful long way to go.

"All I can do is play whatever shot is in front of me – all those cliches, stay in the moment and just try and hit the best shot I can."

Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa faced an overnight wait to learn whether they had made the cut at the windswept Abu Dhabi Championship, as Scott Jamieson clung to first place.

McIlroy made a vital birdie at the par-five 18th to improve his score to three over, having dropped four shots over the previous five holes.

His opening 72 had been way off the pace, and a 75 in the gusting wind could be considered a better result, nudging the four-time major winner up 15 places to a share of 60th position at Yas Links.

Reigning Open champion Morikawa added a 74 to his opening 73 to sit alongside McIlroy, both men hoping there was no surge coming from those left with holes still to play in the second round.

Play was suspended amid fading light on Friday, after the high winds made scoring treacherously difficult.

Jamieson had opened with a 63 on Thursday, but he had two bogeys and a double in his second round, which he started from the 10th tee. Birdies at 11 and eight kept the 38-year-old Scot just ahead of the field after a 74, with Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter and James Morrison all one shot back.

Hovland also shot a 74, Poulter impressed with a 72, while Morrison, level par for the day, had four holes of his round to complete as darkness fell.

Former Open champion Shane Lowry was in a group of four on five under, while Denmark's Jeff Winther was the only player to break 70, his round of 69 featuring five birdies and taking him to four under, in a share of ninth.

In the first DP World Tour event of the year, the drastic change in playing conditions provided a stiff test for all, some former Masters winner Danny Willett was among those who struggled.

His 80, after an opening 72, meant the Yorkshireman could be definitely confirmed as missing the cut on eight over. Only four players scored worse.

The top 65 players and ties are assured of playing the final two rounds, with the second round to resume at 07:30 local time on Saturday (03:30 GMT).

Jamieson, the world number 336, said it "certainly wasn't easy" for the players who had enjoyed conditions suitable for low-scoring on the opening day.

"It's so tricky," he said, quoted on the DP World Tour website. "Obviously hitting shots is tricky with all the gusts, but the hardest thing is putting.

"You get over the ball and you feel like you've got to be so tense to stop everything moving, but that's the worst thing you can do when you're trying to putt.

"I holed a lot of really good putts from inside five feet today which kept my score respectable.

"It's a great test from tee to green, if you want to call it a test, at the mercy of whatever gust you might or might not get."

Scott Jamieson holds a one-shot lead from Viktor Hovland after the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship. 

Jamieson got the first DP World Tour event of the year under way with a brilliant nine-under 63 at the Yas Links course on Thursday.

The Scot was bogey-free through his opening round, hitting the turn in 32 and making another five birdies on the back nine to set the clubhouse target at the DP World Tour's newest venue.

Jamieson started with a birdie and never looked back, fittingly also finishing his excellent round with another gain.

He said in an interview with the DP World Tour: "Eight weeks off from tournament golf, you're always a little bit on edge at the start of the day, but a birdie at the first settled any edge there was and I was just really solid all day.

"One tee shot wasn't very good, but I kind of got lucky and recovered well."

Hovland signed for an eight-under 64 in the opening Rolex Series event of the season, with a bogey five at the 12th the only blemish on the world number seven's card.

The Norwegian had gone out in 31 and finished with a flourish, making three birdies in his final four holes.

World number two Collin Morikawa, winner of the Race to Dubai last year, has work to do following a one-over 73, with Rory McIlroy also having ground to make up at level par.

Thomas Pieters is two shots adrift of Jamieson in third place, while Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton and James Morrison are among a group of five players on six under.

Takumi Kanaya and Victor Perez also started with six-under rounds of 66.

Rory McIlroy wants to follow Tiger Woods' lead as he strives to return to the peak of his powers this season.

It is seven years since McIlroy won the last of his four major titles and he was reduced to tears when frankly stating he "should have done more" to try and prevent Europe from slumping to a record defeat to the United States in the Ryder Cup last September.

McIlroy went on to end 2021 with a flourish, winning the CJ Cup and finishing in a share of sixth in the DP World Tour Championship after holding the lead heading into the final round.

The 32-year-old, who will start his season at the Abu Dhabi Championship this weekend, has outlined his intention to adopt an approach that worked so well for the legendary Woods over the years.

"There are certainly aspects of what he did so well in the past that I would obviously love to put into my game," said the Northern Irishman.

McIlroy is not looking to try match Bryson DeChambeau in the driving department, though.

He added: "No, I don't need to. The goal of hitting more fairways, it maybe means throttling back and hitting three-wood a little more often or hitting clubs that are maybe not as aggressive off tees and just putting yourself in the fairway.

"I'll certainly pick and choose my spots where I can take advantage of the driver and hit it, the best player of the last 30 years, Tiger, he picked and chose where he hit driver and he played a very, very controlled game. It didn't work out too badly for him."

McIlroy revealed he is taking a different approach when setting his goals for the year.

"I used to sit down on the flight here and write down I want to win five times, I want to win a major, I want to win The Race to Dubai, I want to win the FedExCup, I'd love to win six times in a season as I've won five in the past, I want to do this or that," he said.

"And all those things are great goals and they are things to try to work towards. But I think the biggest thing for guys at the level that we're at is I want to hit over 60 per cent of my fairways.

"I want my proximity [to the hole] inside 150 yards to be a certain number. I want my strokes-gained putting to be a certain number. I can't control if I win five or six times a year.

"There's so many other variables in there. I'd rather set goals that are objective and measurable that I'm in control of.

"I can certainly control if I hit 60 per cent of the fairways and I'd love to get my iron play back to where it was a few years ago. I can control if my stats are better than they were the year before."

Tyrell Hatton produced a magnificent final round of 66 to win the Abu Dhabi Championship by four shots on Sunday.

Hatton started the day a stroke adrift of Rory McIlroy, but finished in dominant fashion to secure his fourth Rolex Series title.

The Englishman made a dream start to the 2021 Race to Dubai, closing with a six-under round to end the week well clear on 18 under.

Jason Scrivener matched world number nine Hatton in posting a 66 thanks to an impressive back nine, seeing him finish in second place, a shot ahead of McIlroy.

Hatton's triumph ensured he equalled Jon Rahm's record of Rolex Series successes, having also won the 2017 Italian Open, 2019 Turkish Airlines Open and 2020 BMW PGA Championship.

He made three birdies on the front nine and as many after the turn to seal a sixth European Tour victory at a canter.

McIlroy finished on 13 after signing for a level-par 72, with four bogeys frustrating the Northern Irishman after two gains from his first three holes.

Scrivener went out in 37, but got on a roll after the turn, sparked by an eagle-three at the 10th, followed by five birdies.

Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello took fourth place on 12 under, while Tommy Fleetwood dropped back into a share of seventh on 10 under.

David Lipsky and Marc Warren were unable to finish with a flourish, both carding rounds of 71 to finish joint-fifth.

Rory McIlroy knows he must earn the right to end his wait for glory at the Abu Dhabi Championship after setting up what could be a thrilling final day.

The four-time major winner stormed back into the lead of the tournament on day three to set up a finale that will see him duel with Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for glory.

McIlroy was five shots behind Hatton overnight but after a strong finish to his delayed second round and a five-under 67 in round three, he now leads by one.

He sits on 13 under for the tournament, closely followed by Hatton at 12 under, while Fleetwood – a two-time winner at the event – is a further shot behind.

McIlroy has won a host of titles in his glittering career, but is yet to triumph in a Rolex Series event.

Having impressively been runner-up in Abu Dhabi four times and also come third on three occasions, he was asked ahead of Sunday's battle whether his time had come.

"I can't go into the day thinking it is my turn," said world number six McIlroy, who had an eagle on the 10th and five birdies.

"I want to make it my turn. I have to go out there and continue to hit the ball like I hit it on the back nine.

"If I can do that and give myself plenty of chances, I will have a really good chance.

"It's so blustery - a different type of golf than we're used to playing in Abu Dhabi. Usually not much wind and you have a chance on every hole but there is a little more scrambling involved and longer putts.

"So I thought I did well. Obviously had that big stroke of luck on 10, the ball hitting the pin and going in. 

"Apart from that, I played well. I drove it much better on the back nine and I hit it much better on the back nine, so I was really encouraged about that."

Hatton was in control of the tournament overnight but now faces a Sunday scrap, though he is relishing the challenge.

"It's pretty cool group to be a part of," said Hatton, who is eyeing a fourth Rolex Series win. 

"I'm sure the standard of golf will be pretty good and I'm hoping that I can play well and give myself a chance to win.

"You're always going to have days like that and you just try and get through it and the good thing is that I'm still in contention going into the final round. 

"Obviously one shot back which isn't ideal but a lot can happen in 18 holes. Hopefully things go my way."

Fleetwood produced consecutive rounds of 67 to move into contention after starting with a 71.

"I played well and solid," he said. "Really good round of golf and just happy to be in contention again."

Rory McIlroy stormed back into the lead of the Abu Dhabi Championship to set up a thrilling final day that will see him duel with Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for glory.

Three of golf's leading names occupy the top three spots on the leaderboard after a dramatic Saturday at the Rolex Series event.

A 67 from McIlroy moved him to 13 under par for the tournament, one shot clear of Hatton, who dropped back after thriving in round two.

Fleetwood also registered a five-under 67 and sits in striking distance at 11 under.

Marc Warren and David Lipsky are in the hunt at 10 under, while Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-9) will hope a fast start can see him move into contention.

Hatton entered day three in control of the tournament, acknowledging himself he was in "a great position".

But after bad light caused a suspension of play on day two, the first task was to complete the second round, and Hatton's momentum stalled.

He was one over in completing his last five holes while two birdies from McIlroy moved him closer to the Englishman, three shots behind at the start of round three.

It did not get much better for Hatton, who eventually had to settle for a 71, comfortably his worst score of the week.

But he remains right behind world number six McIlroy, who had an eagle and five birdies in a magnificent third round, with bogeys on seven and 13 his only setbacks.

Fleetwood was one of the fortunate players who had completed his round on day two, and he had six birdies on Saturday, picking up a crucial one at 18 to move himself closer to the leaders.

World number three Justin Thomas, in the spotlight after a controversy over his use of a homophobic slur at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii this month, missed the cut. 

The American was two under through 14 holes when play was halted on Friday, but a miserable double-bogey on 18 ended his hopes.

A poor 75 from defending champion Lee Westwood in round three left him out of the running.

Leader McIlroy has enjoyed a remarkable career but victory on Sunday would be the first time he has triumphed in a Rolex Series event.

Despite not winning it, he has an impressive record at this tournament, having been runner-up four times and coming third on three occasions.

Tyrrell Hatton acknowledged he had put himself in a great position for glory at the Abu Dhabi Championship as he surged past overnight leader Rory McIlroy. 

Round two will have to be completed on Saturday after bad light caused a suspension of play a day after fog had impacted the opening round. 

But Englishman Hatton was an impressive five under par for the 13 holes he was able to play, surging on to 12 under for the tournament. 

That gave him a five-shot advantage over a group of four players, including McIlroy, at the Rolex Series event. 

Jason Scrivener, Jazz Janewattananond and Romain Langasque are with McIlroy at seven under. 

"I'm obviously in a great position at the moment," said Hatton. "It was certainly tough out there, so I'm really happy to be five under [for the round]. 

"I held some nice putts and there were a couple of par putts towards the end of my round - nice to hold them and keep a bit of momentum going. 

"It [a long day on Saturday] will be fine. I'll just try and stay loose and see how we go."

Hatton, with his short game thriving, eagled the second hole and then immediately gave one of those shots back at the third. 

But four straight birdies between holes seven and 10 provided him with a commanding lead. 

McIlroy had started the day with a one-shot advantage at eight under and quickly improved to 10 under through three holes. 

However, the Northern Irishman fell apart from there with three bogeys and a double bogey in the 10 holes that followed before the suspension of play gave him some respite after 13. 

Tommy Fleetwood was able to complete his round, an impressive five-under 67 moving him to within a shot of McIlroy as part of a five-man group sitting at six under. 

World number three Justin Thomas, in the spotlight after a controversy over his use of a homophobic slur at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month, fared better than he did on day one. 

The American was two under through 14 holes when play was brought to an end, improving to one under for the week but still 11 shots adrift of Hatton. 

Reigning champion Lee Westwood is three under in a tie for 24th position.

Rory McIlroy put his lowest-scoring round at the Abu Dhabi Championship down to precision putting as the four-time major winner shot a first-round 64.

The Northern Irishman, paired with the under-fire Justin Thomas, had to be patient as play was delayed amid fog but he made up for lost time in eye-catching fashion.

McIlroy closed day one on eight under, putting the 31-year-old a shot clear of Ryder Cup team-mate Tyrrell Hatton, with Fabrizio Zanotti a stroke further back.

The delay meant not everyone managed to complete 18 holes, but McIlroy was pleased to be sitting pretty in the clubhouse. 

"A lot of it was very good. I felt like I drove the ball well for the most part. Distance control was really good," McIlroy said of a display which saw him sink four birdies apiece on the front and back nine.

"I think I started off really well and hit a lot of nice iron shots, but honestly it was probably the best I've putted these greens in Abu Dhabi probably in my whole career.

"I've shot some really good scores here but I held some really good ones today.

"And I've always struggled to read them here, but I sort of got my eye in early and kept it going."

After becoming embroiled in recent controversy for his use of a homophobic slur, McIlroy's playing partner Thomas found himself well off the pace on one over.

The American was dropped by sponsor Ralph Lauren following the incident, in which the world number three was heard making an offensive comment by a television microphone when playing at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.

Thomas subsequently apologised for his "inexcusable" use of the slur.

Reigning champion Lee Westwood carded a 69, putting him in a big group on three under, with English compatriot Justin Rose for company, though the Olympic champion managed only 11 holes.

Justin Thomas insists his "embarrassing" and "humiliating" use of a homophobic slur is "not me" and reflected on Ralph Lauren's decision to stop working with him as a result of the incident.

World number three Thomas was heard making the offensive comment by a television microphone when playing at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.

Afterwards, Thomas apologised for his "inexcusable" use of the slur and he again addressed the issue when previewing the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour this weekend. 

"It's humiliating. It's embarrassing. It's not me. It's not a word that I use, but for some reason, it was in there," Thomas said. 

"And that's what I'm trying to figure out as to why it was in there, and just like I said, it's going to be a part of this process and training program or whatever I need to do, not only to prove to myself but prove to my sponsors and prove to those people that don't know who I am that that is indeed not the person I am."

Thomas will be playing without shirt branding in Abu Dhabi after Ralph Lauren opted to end its partnership with the 27-year-old.

Asked about the company's decision, Thomas replied: "I think disappointed is the wrong word. 

"Obviously I was upset. But at the end of the day, they have that right. They had to make the decision that they had to make. I spoke with them along with all my sponsors. 

"Although I apologised, it's like it was then; it's an opportunity for me to grow and I felt like it was something we could have done together and gone through that process. 

"They just felt like they needed to move on. That's exactly what I'm doing, as well. It was a great run that we had and a great partnership, but you know, things will work out on the best."

Thomas confirmed conversations have been held with his other sponsors, adding: "I've had great communication with all of them. 

"It was obviously not calls or e-mails I was hoping or planning to make but I needed to because I have some great long-lasting partnerships with all my sponsors. They know that's not the person that I am.

"They know that's not how I act and although they are far from brushing it to the side just like I am, they understand that this is an opportunity for me to educate myself, grow, become a better person, and just like they hope, I know that I'll become a better man and a better person because of it, and they are going to kind of help me along that process."

Thomas earned the backing of Rory McIlroy, who is confident his on-course rival will learn from his error in judgement.

"I think he's already responded really, really well," the four-time major winner said. 

"I think he realised he made a big mistake as soon as it was brought to him and he completely owned up to it. He said he messed up; he's going to try to be better. 

"And you know, Justin is true to his word. He will be. If anything, it will probably just make him a better person than he already is, which is hard because he's already a great guy."

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