England’s Tommy Fleetwood insists he does not feel weighed down by pressure despite missing another chance to put the Race To Dubai crown out of reach of his closest rivals.
Fleetwood finished in a tie for 10th place at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday, leaving the door open for compatriot Justin Rose and Masters winner Sergio Garcia to supplant him at the head of the European order of merit at the final event of the season, this week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The 26-year-old from Southport could have sewn up a first Race To Dubai title at Sun City, where Branden Grace surged to an 11-under-par victory on home soil, but instead faces a final-weekend shootout with in-form Rose and Garcia.
“I’ve played brilliant all year. I think to be in with a chance of winning the Race to Dubai, it’s pretty special,” he said.
“It’s not a burden. I don’t feel stressed about it, I don’t feel anxious. I just think it’s great that I’ve got the chance to win it and a good chance. And as much as it depends on what they do, it is in my hands. I can take it out of everybody’s hands but we’ll see.”
Fleetwood might be heading to the Middle East with a lead greater than 256,737 points had he played the back nine as he did the front, but he had to settle for a 71 that left him eight behind Grace.
The South African, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and Victor Dubuisson of France were tied with four holes to play, but Grace seized the initiative when he drained a 40-foot birdie putt at 16.
His six-under-par round of 66 saw him beat Jamieson by one and land a first title of the year, with a bogey at 15 leaving Dubuisson another shot back.
China’s Li Haotong was fourth, two behind Dubuisson, after a bogey-free 64. Both Rose and Garcia opted to miss the event and prepare at home for the season finale.
“This is the one event that as a South African you want to win. It’s Africa’s Major for a reason and what a special place it is,” said Grace.
“There’s a lot of history and a lot of great winners on the trophy and I’m very glad to be able to put my name on the trophy as well.
“I had to stay patient and I had to take the chances when they came my way. I missed a couple of short ones but I think the big key was the putt on 16.”