Fleetwood crowned European No 1 as Rose suffers late collapse

Tommy Fleetwood poses with the Race to Dubai trophy after the final round of the DP World Tour Championship (Picture: Kamran Jebreili/AP).
Tommy Fleetwood poses with the Race to Dubai trophy after the final round of the DP World Tour Championship (Picture: Kamran Jebreili/AP).
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Spain’s Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour Championship as Justin Rose’s dramatic late collapse saw Tommy Fleetwood crowned European No 1 for the first time.

Rose looked set for a remarkable third win in succession to seal a second Race to Dubai title when he led by a shot with seven holes to play, only to bogey three of the next five.

This left the Olympic champion needing to eagle the last to overhaul Fleetwood, but his long-range attempt slid past the hole as Fleetwood looked on alongside his fiancee Clare and their seven-week-old son.

“It’s kind of amazing,” Fleetwood said. “It’s not kind of sunk in yet. It was great being out there trying to win it. It really was out of my control over the last few holes.

“It was difficult being sat on the couch in the scoring area, just watching TV, not being able to do anything. You just have to watch how it unfolds and I felt for Justin a lot. I think how gracious he was shows a lot about his character.

“It’s the biggest day of my career for sure. The achievement of winning a year-long accomplishment is massive and it holds a lot of respect amongst your peers. It shows the level of consistency and the amount I’ve improved as a player and as a person.”

Fleetwood was struggling so badly with his game 18 months ago that he wanted to pull out of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, fearing that he could not get the ball off the first tee.

But the 26-year-old from Southport has reaped the rewards of returning to his former coach Alan Thompson and employing his friend Ian Finnis as his caddie.

“Wentworth has always been like a benchmark to see where I’ve been and where I’ve come from, because that was my lowest moment,” added Fleetwood, who finished 58,821 points ahead of Rose.

“I can’t give the people around me enough credit. I know I am out there hitting the shots, but there’s a lot of work goes into it that people don’t see.”

Rose began the final round with a one-shot lead and maintained that advantage thanks to a front nine of 32, but failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the 12th and found water with his approach to the 14th.

This dropped the 37-year-old into a three-way tie for fifth and back below Fleetwood in the Race to Dubai, with another bogey on the 16th ultimately leaving him too much to do.

“I felt like I was in complete control until the 12th hole then I kind of hit the buffers,” Rose said. “I don’t know where it went wrong on the back nine.

“I’m happy for Tommy. He’s battled hard all year. It’s good for him to finish it off.”

Rose had to settle for a tie for fourth on 17 under par, two shots behind European Tour rookie of the year Rahm, who secured his second victory of the season thanks to a closing 67.

The 23-year-old, who only turned professional in June last year, finished a shot ahead of Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Ireland’s Shane Lowry, whose 63 equalled the lowest round of the week.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia and the South Africa duo of Dean Burmester and Dylan Frittelli finished alongside Rose, with Fleetwood in a tie for 21st after a final round of 74.

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley believes a world tour in golf remains “just a concept” and is not a high priority.

Former world No 1 Rory McIlroy caused controversy in September when he said a world tour ‘’has to happen’’ and that the ‘’easy thing’’ would be for the PGA Tour to buy the European Tour.

McIlroy later clarified that he thought such a move remained a long way off and Pelley agreed with that assessment during a press conference on the final day of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

“There’s been a lot of conversation about a world tour,” Pelley said.

“I’ve been in the role two years here. Jay Monahan (PGA Tour commissioner) has been in the role one year. I don’t know if it is a high priority for him. It hasn’t been a high priority for me at this point.

“Does it make sense to look at it at some point down the road? Perhaps. If, in fact, it is something that all our players want us to investigate, we would have a fiduciary responsibility to look at it.

“Would we have conversations with all the other tours? Absolutely, if it is the best way to grow the game of golf globally and it works for us as a members’ organisation.

“Right now it is not our number one priority. We’ve just launched the Rolex Series, which I believe is a game changer for us. We have a lot of different things on the agenda now. We’re heading into a Ryder Cup year.

“So the concept of a world tour I understand, but right now it is just a concept. Could it come to fruition down the road? Perhaps, but that would be speculation.”

Pelley hopes to see the number of Rolex Series events – tournaments with a prize fund of at least $7m – increase from eight to 10, with the British Masters potentially joining the ranks.

“Ten would be the ultimate, but I’d rather have eight great events than 10 events just for the sake of having 10,” Pelley added.

“I’m comfortable the number will increase in 2019, but not without us looking at it forensically. We want to have a top-player field. It needs to be a top event on a championship golf course.”

Pelley also revealed that the European Tour remains happy to assist the struggling Ladies European Tour after an initial approach, in partnership with the LPGA and R&A, was rejected.