Tommy Fleetwood aiming to take Race to Dubai battle to the wire
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 14/11/18 3:20pm
Tommy Fleetwood is determined to pile the pressure on Francesco Molinari at the DP World Tour Championship as he bids for the win he needs to have any chance of retaining his Race to Dubai crown.
Fleetwood is the only man in the field in Dubai who can deny Molinari the right to end the season as European No 1, although only a victory will do for the Englishman while he would also need his Ryder Cup team-mate to finish out of the top five.
It was a different situation for Fleetwood at the season finale last year as he entered the final event with a commanding lead over Justin Rose, who then became favourite to snatch the Race to Dubai title when he led heading into the back nine on the final day.
But Rose made critical mistakes down the stretch as Fleetwood held on to be crowned European No 1 by the narrowest of margins, and the 27-year-old is looking forward to the challenge of being the hunter rather than the hunted at the Jumeirah Golf Estates this week.
"It's different for me this year, and the biggest difference is it's not in my hands," said Fleetwood, who still harbours hopes of becoming only the second player to win back-to-back Race to Dubai crowns, after Rory McIlroy in 2014 and 2015.
"It's just great to have that excitement surrounding the event again, it really is. You've come this far and to have a chance, as little as it is - and it's not a big chance and it's not in my hands at all - but you know it's there and you're teeing off on Thursday with a chance at winning the biggest prize of the year.
"It was a lot closer last year. I had never experienced anything like that playing for a year-long event. I was nervous Thursday, then it changed for Friday, Saturday, and then Sunday again. I think it showed last year, I kind of stumbled over the line but got over the line.
"Hopefully, come the back nine on Sunday this year, I have a chance and I end up having a great week and I'm playing well, and I can give Frank something to think about. But just knowing that you have a chance and you're in a tournament to win it - I am chasing and there's a lot of freedom in that.
"That's all I can focus on, really. The math is pretty clear, and it's in Frank's hands, but I'll be playing, it's another week, another start, where I'm hopefully going to be up there on Sunday. Just focus on this tournament, focus on what we have to do to win, and move on from there.
"It's a very good thing that we'll be teeing off on Thursday together and sort of see that we have a chance. It's great for us as friends, that you know you're going out there with sort of the person that you're closest with on Tour, trying to win the biggest prize that we play for.
"But if it doesn't work out for me, I couldn't be happier for him for what he's achieved this year."