By Kent Gray
After 47 events across 26 countries and four continents, the Race to Dubai has come down to a three-man, four lap sprint around Earth.
Tommy Fleetwood retains pole-position for the European Tour’s season-long points title but Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia are still in it – mathematically at least – heading to Jumeirah Golf Estates for the $8 million DP World Tour Championship starting Thursday.
After winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January and the Rolex Series’ HNA Open De France in early July, Fleetwood has held the Race to Dubai lead for much of the season. A handy top-10 at last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa, while Rose and Garcia rested, will see Fleetwood take a 256,737 point lead over Rose into the final 72 holes of the season.
It means the 26-year-old has destiny in his own hands on JGE’s Greg Norman-designed Earth course and a great shot of claiming the major share – $1.33 million – of the $5 million bonus prize pool for the top-10 order-of-merit place-getters come week’s end.
“I think to be in with a chance of winning the Race to Dubai, it’s pretty special, really. It’s not a burden. I don’t feel stressed about it, I don’t feel anxious,” said Fleetwood.
““But it is what it is. I’ve played brilliant all year. I just think it’s great that I’ve got the chance to win it and a good chance.
“I’m very proud of the year overall. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can come back on Sunday and I’ve won both, I’ve won the tournament and the Race to Dubai. That would be great, wouldn’t it? It’s going to be great next week.”
Omega Dubai Desert Classic and U.S. Masters champion Garcia, in excess of one million points behind Fleetwood, must win the season-ender and hope Fleetwood finishes no better than 20th and Rose no better than third.
Rose can win overall with victory at JGE and has mathematical shot with a solo 5th place finish or better but would need Fleetwood to finish well down the standings.
Here’s the scenario: If Rose finishes 5th, Fleetwood would need to place no better than 34th in the 60 man field; a 4th place finish for Rose means Fleetwood would need to finish 14th to hold on; if Rose is third, Fleetwood would need to finish at least 5th and a runner-up finish for Rose would mean Fleetwood would need to finish at least 3rd.