Rahm wins Dubai nail-biter, Fleetwood crowned No. 1

The outcome in a 48-tournament, 28-country, 11-month long European Tour season came down to the very last hole at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Courtesy of a bogey-free five-under par 67, Spaniard Jon Rahm, captured the season-final tournament by a stroke with a 19-under par tally.

Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood (Credit: European Tour)

England’s Tommy Fleetwood sat with his young son and soon-to-be wife, Clare, watching anxiously as Justin Rose slipped from leading by two shots to bogey three holes in a five-hole stretch from his 12th to 16th holes. Rose arrived at the 72nd hole knowing he needed an eagle ’3′ to deny his younger countryman the European No. 1 title.

In the end, Rose managed a birdie that handed Fleetwood the crown by an eventual handsome €499,478.

Rose, the brilliant winner of his past two events, looked for all intents and purposes, destined for a second European No. 1 title, when he birdied four of his opening seven holes to open-up a two-stroke lead.

But it was not to be with the Greg Norman-designed Earth Course jumping-up to bite Rose over the closing nine with Rose eventually sharing fourth place on 17-under and two adrift of Rahm.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry recorded a European Tour equal career low of 63, finishing tied second with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67).

Rose later tweeted: “Wasn’t my day…hats off to Tommy Fleetwood on a great year and winning the Race to Dubai and Jon Rahm winning today.”

Fleetwood was clearly overcome by emotion when realising what he had finally managed to achieve and in the end it was a fitting reward for the long-haired Englishman, who had lead ‘The Race’ for much of the season with victories in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the French Open.

Of course, Fleetwood would not have wished to bogey his closing two holes for a 74 or end the year in a share of 21st place but the Race to Dubai is not about one event.

“It’s the biggest day of my career for sure,” he said. “The emotions were difficult on me because even — I don’t trust computers, so even when everything had finished, it was so difficult to get up or down.”

“Then I felt for Justin a lot, you know, because I seen him when he come in. I think how gracious he was shows a lot about his character.”

“Yeah, it’s not sunk in yet. It’s just such a — the whole week, I had never done anything like this before, and it was actually quite an up-and-down week.”

Rahm ended his season as it had began with victory after earlier in the year he had brilliantly eagled the last hole to win a maiden PGA Tour title at the Farmers Insurance Open in only his second event of 2017.

He arrived in Dubai for the first occasion to start the week being presented on the Tuesday with the prestigious Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, and then adding the DP World win to his Dubai Duty Free Irish Open victory in May.

“It’s hard to sum it up,” said Rahm. “An incredible week, I could not be more proud of what I’ve done this week. It could be very easy to just be content with getting the award and just being here and trying to play the best.”

“Having the weekend that I’ve had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it’s really special.”

“I didn’t plan on being here at the beginning of the year and I sure didn’t plan on winning it so it’s an incredible feeling.”

Sadly, Australia’s Scott Hend faded from a share of second on day one to post a horror last day 78 for an eventual tie for 48th place for a two-under par tally and four shots adrift of Queenslander Andrew Dodt.

Dodt birdied three of his closing five holes in a 66 for an eventual share of 36th place at six-under.

Leading Australians – 2017 Race to Dubai

44th – Andrew Dodt (€934,726 – 25 events)
47th – Scott Hend (€887,936 – 26 events)
67th – Sam Brazel (€648,013 – 25 events)
81st – Marcus Fraser (€471,608 – 21 events)
83rd – Wade Ormsby (€447,741 – 27 events)
103rd – Jason Scrivener (€382,370 – 25 events)