Tommy Fleetwood crowned European No 1 after Justin Rose falters
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 22/11/17 11:07am
Tommy Fleetwood has been crowned Race to Dubai champion after Justin Rose endured a torrid back nine on the final day of the European Tour season at the DP World Tour Championship.
Jon Rahm emerged from the pack to become the only multiple winner of a Rolex Series tournament this season, while Rose's bid to be European No 1 for the first time in 10 years came up short despite a poor closing round from Fleetwood.
Rose looked in complete control of the tournament and was cruising at three under for the day after 11 holes, but he bogeyed three of the next five to slip out of the top-five position he needed to win the Race to Dubai.
With Fleetwood looking on from the clubhouse after a scrappy 74 left him out of the top 20 on 11 under, Rose needed to hole from the front fringe for eagle at the 72nd hole to snatch the Harry Vardon Trophy.
But his brave effort from around 80 feet drifted left of the target and, although he holed for birdie, a four-way share of fourth place was not enough to displace Fleetwood from the top of the standings.
There was little hint of the drama to come down the stretch when Rose cruised to the turn in 32 with four birdies in six holes as he opened up a two-shot lead over the field, while Fleetwood could not build on an opening birdie and slipped down the leaderboard.
Rose continued to look solid as he parred 10 and 11, but he suddenly made his first bogey in 30 holes, and just his fourth of the week, at the 12th when he dumped his second into a greenside bunker and flew the pin with his escape attempt.
With Fleetwood out of contention, the destination of the Race to Dubai title remained in the control of Rose, but his grip slipped further at the 14th when he blocked his ambitious second to the par-five and found the water to the right, costing him a bogey-six.
He missed a great chance to claw a shot back at the 15th, and he then found sand from the tee at the next and was unable to reach the green with his second, but despite pitching to four feet, his par-saving putt shaved the edge.
Fleetwood, meanwhile, looked fatigued and frustrated as he bogeyed the final two holes to drop out of the top 20, but Rose could not find the birdie he needed at 17, although he almost holed out from the front bunker, and he made his task more difficult when he pulled his final drive into the left rough.
He gouged a superb second to the front fringe, but the eagle attempt was wide of the target to leave Fleetwood celebrating as European No 1 for the first time.
Rahm was already guaranteed the tournament title after the recently-crowned European Tour Rookie of the Year closed with a flawless 67 to snatch a one-shot win over a fast-finishing Shane Lowry and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
The Spaniard did well to keep his composure after missing a number of chances to add to his three birdies over the first 13 holes, but he got into a share of the lead with a classy up-and-down from an awkward lie in the sand at the 14th.
A precise wedge into the 16th set up the birdie which took him to the top of the leaderboard on his own, and his closest rivals fell away one by one as the likes of Dean Burmester and Dylan Frittelli also faltered down the stretch.
Lowry held the clubhouse lead on 18 under for some time after he fired a sizzling 10-birdie 63, and he had to settle for a share of second when Aphibarnrat rolled in a nerveless putt for birdie on the final green.
Sergio Garcia had earlier threatened to gatecrash the Rose vs Fleetwood duel when he birdied the first four holes and raced to the turn in 30, and the Masters champion picked up further shots at 12 and 15 before finding water at the last and closing with a six to finish on 17 under.