Justin Rose is on course to clinch the most remarkable Race to Dubai title in European Tour history after claiming a slender lead in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Rose – an underrated superstar – was a distant 10th on the money list until earning 2.3million points with back-to-back wins in China and Turkey and a third straight victory in Dubai would see him end the season as European number one for a second time, remarkably snatching victory from compatriot Tommy Fleetwood on the final day of the season.
The Olympic champion carded a third round of 65 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish 15 under par, a shot ahead of playing partner Jon Rahm and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli, whose 63 was the lowest score of the week.
Race to Dubai leader Fleetwood overcame a slow start to match Rose’s score and he is now just two behind, alongside Dean Burmester and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, though veteran Rose has the upper hand in what has become a thrilling battle.
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“You couldn’t have scripted it much better,” Rose said after a round containing seven birdies and a crucial par save on the 18th, where his approach found the water in front of the green.
“Tommy’s last two rounds have been incredible and he is right there should I make any kind of mistake. He is doing everything he has to do and I’m doing the same, so it’s perfectly set up for Sunday.
“Tommy’s had the pressure of leading all year and I played with a lot of freedom because I had nothing to lose. Does that change now? I just see it as a great opportunity and the course doesn’t know I’ve won two in a row.
“When I step on the first tee tomorrow that’s irrelevant.”
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Fleetwood came into the week with a lead of 256,738 points and has recovered from an opening 73 with consecutive rounds of 65, with Saturday’s effort including eight birdies in the last 11 holes and a back nine of 30.
“I will be gutted if I don’t win, but made up for Justin because he will deserve it,” Fleetwood, 26, said. “It’s been an absolute pleasure trying to win a Race to Dubai coming down these last few weeks.
“It’s a massive thing, the biggest thing I’ve ever tried to achieve. I was in contention in the US Open and in (the WGC event) in Mexico, but they were like one or two rounds. This has been all year and it’s come down to the final event.
Justin Rose tees off on the 2nd at