The Spaniard, who has now won four Rolex Series events, started the day tied at the top of the leaderboard with Mike Lorenzo-Vera but quickly pulled away with five birdies over his opening seven holes to open up a commanding lead over the Earth course. But the 25 year old gave two shots back on the eighth and ninth to give the chasing pack some hope before Tommy Fleetwood carded five birdies in his closing seven holes to set the clubhouse target at 18 under par.
Rahm was tied with Fleetwood heading up the last and it looked as though a play-off was on the cards for just the second time in tournament history before a brilliant up and down from the bunker saw him secure a one-stroke triumph for his second DP World Tour Championship title having first won the event in 2017.
“You dream of making birdies on 18 to win a tournament,” said Rahm, who became the first player, since Rory McIlroy in 2015, to win both the DP World Tour Championship and Race to Dubai in the same season.
“I wasn’t expecting to need that after playing so well early in the round but it happened and I came through when I needed it and I’m really proud of myself for that. I’ve thought about winning the Race to Dubai all week. I’ve thought about it the last two hours. I thought about it as soon as I made the putt. But it still hasn’t processed in my mind.
“It’s really so hard to believe that some of the greatest champions in European golf and Spanish golf haven’t been able to accomplish what I have in just three years. That’s what I can’t really get my head around.
“So many great players throughout the history of Spain have had a chance to be crowned European Tour Number One but didn’t get it done. It’s just hard to put that in perspective to know that since Seve (Ballesteros), I’m the next one to get it done. It just doesn’t feel like it’s true. It’s hard to believe.”
Fleetwood’s emphatic final round 65 saw him finish runner-up which also took him up to second in the Race to Dubai Rankings on 5414.8 points for the season.
“I feel fine, I couldn’t have done much more, really,” said the Englishman, who has won over US$4.5 million in the last two weeks after winning US$2.5 million at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, $803,418 at the DP World Tour Championship and a healthy US$1.2 million for finishing second in the Race to Dubai.
“Some of the shots the leading pair were making down the stretch, it started to look like I might get back in it or have a chance. I’m proud of the way I played the last few holes and the end of the season. These last two weeks make the season just seem in a different light than it did a few weeks before. Fair play to Jon. He carded a cracking birdie down the last when he needed it.”
Lorenzo-Vera, who had led the tournament for the first three rounds, finished a shot further back to complete the top three while two-time winner, Rory McIlroy, finished in fourth and last year’s champion Danny Willett took fifth place.
Mohammed Al Muallem, CEO & Managing Director, DP World UAE Region, said: “Congratulations to Jon for his DP World Tour Championship title and for winning the Race to Dubai. We’ve had a fantastic week of world-class golf at Jumeirah Golf Estates and I would like to thank the European Tour, the players, volunteers, our partners and of course the golf fans here and around the world. We are proud of our flagship association with the DP World Tour Championship, a tournament that has played a significant part in putting Dubai firmly at the centre of the international sporting world.”
Meanwhile, Bernd Wiesberger dropped down to third in the Race to Dubai Rankings with a tied 28th place finish at the season-ending event to pocket US$700,000 from the Race to Dubai Bonus Pool while Shane Lowry took home US$600,000 and Matthew Fitzpatrick US$500,000 for finishing fourth and fifth in the Rankings respectively.
Top 10 Race to Dubai Rankings after the DP World Tour Championship
|10||Erik VAN ROOYEN||(RSA)||2766.0|