Monday 25 November 2019 5:18 pm

Race To Dubai winner Jon Rahm gets better each year – his first Major is a matter of when not if

Many a man would have buckled in the situation Jon Rahm found himself on Sunday afternoon at the European Tour’s season finale, the DP World Tour Championship.

Chasing a victory that would also earn him the Race To Dubai title and a combined windfall of £4m, the Spaniard made the perfect start, holing five birdies in seven holes to go six shots clear.

On commentary duty, I remarked that he was turning the final round in Dubai into an exhibition.

Read more: Why Jon Rahm is a future world No1

Then the wheels soon came off. Rahm dropped shots at the eighth, ninth, 13th and 15th – the latter after a bad three-putt – to allow Tommy Fleetwood back into the hunt for the tournament and order of merit.

Fleetwood, meanwhile, was playing a phenomenal back nine in five under par to set his rival a target of 18 under.

But Rahm rallied in adversity, making a birdie at the last after a magnificent drive and chip out of the bunker to win the whole kit and caboodle by one shot.

Wonderful machine

All credit to the 25-year-old, who won the Spanish Open on his previous appearance, took six weeks off and then performed like that.

He is a wonderful machine, very fit and strong, seemed to have slimmed down a little during his time off, and now looks more accomplished when playing shots under pressure.

Rahm also seems to get better with every year. Having won three titles in his previous two full seasons as a professional, he has now won four in 2019 and, on top of all that, the Race To Dubai.

He spoke on Sunday of his pride at emulating his idol Seve Ballesteros, the only other Spaniard to top the European money list.

While he has some way to go to matching Seve’s six order of merit titles, 90 career wins and five Majors, he has started extremely well.

You have to think that Rahm will win a Major sooner or later, so the only question is: when?

There’s no doubt he is ready and not scared at all – just look at the way he won at the weekend against a very strong field. The Masters is a dream for big hitters like him, so that would seem a good chance.

Fabulous finish to the year

For his part, Fleetwood couldn’t have done much more. He made a huge putt at 17 and a glorious chip at 18 to finish with two birdies as he sought back-to-back wins and a second Race To Dubai crown in three years.

It hadn’t been a great season for the Englishman until last week’s win at Sun City, but it has been a fabulous finish to the year.

Tommy Fleetwood at the DP World Tour Championship Dubai
Fleetwood put pressure on Rahm with a superb back nine but the Englishman missed out by one shot

I also have to mention Mike Lorenzo-Vera, who was one shot behind Fleetwood in third place.

The 34-year-old, still waiting for his first European Tour title, did everything except win and paid for a three-putt at the last.

For a season finale, it had almost everything, although I expected Rory McIlroy to be challenging Rahm, expecially after his opening 64 and a 65 on Saturday.

He was undone by a second round of 74 and Sunday’s 73, although no matter how many mistakes he makes Rory still seems to finish in the top five, as he did again here.

MacIntyre caps whirlwind 2019

Rahm aside, the other player crowned on Sunday was Bob MacIntyre, who clinched the Rookie of the Year award.

Robert MacIntyre at the DP World Tour Championship Dubai
MacIntyre claimed the European Tour’s Rookie of the Year prize to cap a breakthrough season for the 23-year-old Scot

MacIntyre, 23, is the first to do it without winning a title since Chris Wood in 2009, while fellow rookies Guido Migliozzi and Kurt Kitayama both won multiple events.

But he’s had a fantastic year, banking €2m in prize money and playing magnificently, and it’s great to see a young Scottish player win this prize – after all, you only get one chance.