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Desert Dazzle

by Mike Cullity

The European Tour’s season came to a stirring end on Sunday in Dubai, with Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood emerging the big winners.

With a bulletproof 67 in the final round, Rahm won the DP World Tour Championship and lent further credence to the notion that he is Europe’s next superstar. Crowned European Tour rookie of the year in advance of the tournament, the 23-year-old Spaniard capped a year in which he had won twice previously, in California and Northern Ireland, and rocketed into the world’s top five.

Fleetwood, meanwhile, won the Race to Dubai after red-hot Justin Rose stumbled down the stretch, making three bogeys on his final nine to fall a stroke shy of the season-long accolade. Fleetwood, a 26-year-old Englishman with flowing locks and a working-class way, shot 74 Sunday but left $1.25 million richer.

In Florida, it felt like déjà vu at the LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Lexi Thompson, seemingly in control, loses after a stunning turn of events. Sound familiar?

There was no rules imbroglio this time, as there had been in April at the ANA Inspiration, where Thompson lost in a playoff after officials assessed her four penalty strokes in the final round for improperly replacing a marked ball the day before. This time it was a missed tiddler on the 72nd hole, a blown gimme, that cost the 22-year-old American a chance at a big title.

With observers’ jaws still hanging agape after Thompson’s gaffe, Ariya Jutanugarn calmly birdied the last for a one-stroke victory. Still, Thompson can take solace in the $1 million she earned for winning the LPGA’s season-long Race to the CME Globe.

 

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