You couldn’t have asked for a much better climax to the Race To Dubai than the one that we witnessed over the last few days.
Right up until the last holes of the European Tour season Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood were all in contention for the order of merit. To have the year’s top three all playing so well made it very special.
For around 65 holes of the DP World Tour Championship Rose looked invincible. Then one poor shot at 12 resulted in a bogey and something seemed to change. It’s amazing what pressure can do.
Rose made further bogeys at 14 and 16, hitting some shots that he would never normally hit. Even still he ended tied for fourth, just one stroke away from pipping Fleetwood in the Race To Dubai, and he’ll wonder how his brilliant bunker shot at 17 didn’t drop in.
Masters champion Garcia, meanwhile, was magnificent for so long. He followed five birdies on Saturday’s back nine with six on the front nine on Sunday to move in contention for the win that he needed to overtake both Fleetwood and Rose in the order of merit.
Like Rose, he eventually finished two shots behind tournament winner Jon Rahm, after a poor drive at 18 led to a bogey. Had he made a birdie instead it could have been very different.
Rose winning the Race To Dubai by landing the DP World Tour Championship – a third event in a row – would have been very special. But in the end I’m glad that he didn’t do it by finishing second on Sunday, which was a possibility.
The 2013 US Open winner will feel bitter at losing but, as with his play-off defeat to Garcia at the Masters earlier this year, he will at least be glad that it was to a friend in fellow Englishman Fleetwood.
It was uphill at times for Fleetwood over the last few weeks as he tried to keep pushing in each tournament. It took a lot out of him but he did fantastically well to shoot 65s on Friday and Saturday that ultimately helped him to get over the line.
Beating everyone over the course of a season and winning more than €5m in prize money shows his quality and consistency, so well done to him. Rose and Garcia are two fantastic scalps; beating those two to the prize will make it even more rewarding.
Fleetwood will now be aiming higher. He has won big-money Rolex Series titles and now this, so a WGC event or a Major will be next on his list. He is certainly capable of either. He’ll rest up over Christmas and plan his targets for 2018; I’m sure Augusta will be among them.
For Rahm, meanwhile, it was another extraordinary performance from a 23-year-old who is going to be a megastar. Not a lot went right for the Spaniard but he still won a third title of the year.
The tour’s Rookie of the Year has won in the United States, he’s won in Europe and is already a certainty for the Ryder Cup. He’ll be a great asset. With the distance he achieves and his iron control, it’ll also be exciting to see him at the Masters.