November 20, 2017
Tommy Fleetwood won the Race to Dubai and the right to be called the top golfer in Europe after a tense battle with Justin Rose that was ultimately decided on the final green of the season on Sunday.
Rose, seemingly in cruise control after 11 holes as he opened up a one-shot lead atop of the leaderboard on 19-under par, then wobbled and made bogeys on the 12th, 14th and 16th holes on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The 37-year-old No. 6-ranked golfer reached the par-5 18th hole three shots behind clubhouse leader Jon Rahm of Spain (19 under), and needed to make an eagle to move up to second. With Fleetwood in the clubhouse in joint 21st at 11 under, Rose needed to finish in solo fourth place or better to win his second Order of Merit title.
Just short of the green with his second shot, Rose used his putter and came agonizingly close but the ball did not go in. He finished in joint fourth place at 17-under par with three other players, handing the title to Fleetwood.
Spain's Rahm, winner of the Irish Open earlier this year on the European Tour, fired a final-round 67 to finish on 19-under par 269 to win the tournament.
Ireland's Shane Lowry shot the day's best round, a 63, to finish tied second at 270 alongside Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67). Masters champion Sergio Garcia (65) and South African duo of Dylan Frittelli (69) and Dean Burmester (68) were the other players tied for fourth with Rose.
Rose made four birdies in his first seven holes, and played his first poor shot on the 12th when his approach found the greenside bunker. He made a bogey there, before finding the water with his second shot on the par-5 14th and missing a two-foot par putt on the 16th.
After two successive rounds of 65, Fleetwood failed to make headway on Sunday, and could only watch the drama unfold in the scoring tent after a two-over par 74 round.
''It's the biggest day of my career for sure. The emotions were difficult on me. I don't trust computers, so even when everything had finished, it was so difficult to get up or down. Then I felt for Justin a lot. He was so gracious when he came in.shows a lot about his character,'' said Fleetwood after accepting his trophy.
''The achievement of winning a year-long thing is massive and it holds a lot of respect among your peers and the players. It shows sort of the level of consistency and the amount I've improved as a player and as a person.''
Rose was disappointed with his finish, but delighted for Fleetwood.
''I just feel I went a bit flat around the turn. I had opportunities around 10 and 11 and didn't take those. I got a little bit out of my routine and a little distracted, had a poor shot on the par-5 and then it was a struggle from there on in. The shots on 13 and 14 were the undoing,'' he said.
''Tommy, I'm pleased for him. He's battled hard all year and put a good week in South Africa and had a great couple of comeback rounds this week to fight back and deserve it. He's been leading all year and it's good for him to finish it off.''
As other players struggled down the stretch, Rahm birdied the 14th and the tough 16th to take the lead for good.
''I was a little anxious before teeing off. I really wanted to win. I really wanted to finish strong,'' said Rahm, who also won the PGA Tour event in Torrey Pines and is expected to climb up to fourth place in the world rankings on Monday in his first full season as a professional.
November 19, 2017
Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.
The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.
The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.
Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.
''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''
U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.
Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.
Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.
Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked like throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.
''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''
The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.
Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.
''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''
November 18, 2017
Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.
At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick was edging English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.
Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.
In the race to win the Order of Merit, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.
U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.
Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.
Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.
He was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and overnight leader Patrick Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.
''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.
''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''
Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.
''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.
''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''
Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.
Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.
''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''
November 17, 2017
Justin Rose made the best start of the three players looking to become Europe's top player for 2017 at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai with a 6-under 66 Thursday.
An eagle from the greenside bunker on the 14th hole and a stunning approach shot to two feet for birdie on the 18th handed the Englishman the early initiative in his attempt to win the European Tour's Race to Dubai crown.
The other two players in contention for the crown - Tommy Fleetwood and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia - opened with rounds of 73 and 70, respectively.
Patrick Reed of the United States was the first-round leader after shooting 7-under 65.
Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final event of the season and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.
Sixth-ranked Rose is chasing his third straight tournament success after wins in China and Turkey.
''Really happy with that as a start,'' the Olympic champion said Thursday at Jumeirah Golf Estates. ''I kind of wanted to come out today with good intent and sort of get myself moving forward quickly.''
Fleetwood started poorly, making a double bogey on the first and then missing a short birdie putt on the second before another bogey on the third.
But the Englishman was hopeful of getting his act together over the next three rounds.
''As of right now, it is kind of out of my hands a little bit after that start, but you never know what can happen,'' Fleetwood said. ''Three days to go, that's the luxury of four rounds of golf. I've got three more to go, and let's see what happens.''
Reed, who is yet to win a tournament this year, started with birdies on his first two holes, and then added five more on his back nine despite suffering from back pain while warming up in the morning.
''I woke up this morning, had this really awful pain in my back, close to my shoulder. The warm-up wasn't how I wanted,'' Reed said. ''Any time you can start birdie-birdie, it gets you started and I was able to right the ship and make some putts and hit some good shots.''
Australia's Scott Hend (66) shares second place with Rose, while defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick of England started with a 5-under 67.
Sweden's Henrik Stenson - the reigning Race to Dubai champion - is out with a rib injury.
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