Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood produced matching seven under 65s during a sensational third day of the DP World Tour Championship to guarantee a thrilling climax to the Race to Dubai.
Rose has continued his electrifying form, which has seen him win his last two events in China and Turkey, into the final week of the season as he looks to complete an incredible late surge and leapfrog current Number One Fleetwood on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
The English duo came into the final event of the European Tour season separated by 256,737 points and now find themselves separated at the top of the DP World Tour Championship leaderboard by just two strokes, with Rose leading the way on 15 under and Fleetwood tied for fourth alongside South Africa’s Dean Burmester and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
In between the Englishmen sit Spanish sensation Jon Rahm and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli on 14 under, but the spotlight will burn brightest on Rose and Fleetwood and their epic battle to be crowned the European Tour Number One.
Both men, who have each won twice this season including one Rolex Series victory apiece, have one simple target: win the DP World Tour Championship and you win the Race to Dubai.
The permutations if that doesn’t happen are as follows: Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose’s finishing position to stay ahead the Olympic Champion; while Rose needs to finish no worse than solo fifth in order to have any chance of winning the season-long title. As long as Fleetwood doesn’t win, a solo second place finish for Rose would be enough to secure the 37 year old’s second Race to Dubai title.
The stage is set for a rollercoaster end to an incredible season.
Justin Rose: “It’s a great opportunity, isn’t it? I’m certainly not thinking about being the leader because I think it such a condensed pack and someone tomorrow is going to have to play great golf to win. Someone is going to shoot in the mid-60s at some point who is within touch. It’s going to be a day where you’re out there not paying too much attention to the leaderboard early in the round. You just have to put your blinkers on and play good golf.
“I saw Tommy’s name creep up on the board. It’s brilliant. It’s just so much fun and a ton of guys will fancy it tomorrow. It’s really condensed. One-shot lead with a pack like that behind you doesn’t mean much. It’s just going to be whoever comes out tomorrow and really plays well.”
Tommy Fleetwood: “It doesn’t seem to matter what I’m doing at the moment. When you look at the leaderboard, we know who’s there! It’s massive. It really is. But whether I win it or not, or whether Justin wins it, one of us will have deserved it. It’s been an absolute pleasure trying to win a Race to Dubai, coming down these last few events, and especially this week now. The week could have gone not quite as how you wanted it, not being in contention or anything.
“It’s a massive day tomorrow. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever tried to achieve. I was in contention in the U.S. Open and Mexico at the WGC but they were like one or two rounds. This has been all year and you come down to the final event.
“A year and a half ago, I was absolutely nowhere in the game and I was a bit lost. Fast forward to where I am, for me, it’s been amazing to play and to enjoy my golf this year; and then to get to this stage. It’s been an absolute pleasure and privilege trying to compete for a Race to Dubai.”
Jon Rahm: “For many reasons it would be absolutely amazing to win this tournament. It would mean I had become Rookie of the Year and won twice on the European Tour. Once was already a dream but two wins – both of them being Rolex Series and one being the DP World Tour Championship – would be something really, really special. It would be the cherry on top of the icing of a great, great year.”
Dylan Frittelli: “I started two-under through three the first two days, so I feel like that good start today was par for the course right now. But definitely proud of the way that I knuckled down through the middle of the round and got some more birdies, as opposed to the first two days.
“I definitely set high goals this year and I’ve achieved a lot of them. Obviously it’s been a breakout year. It’s been the best one I’ve had as a professional so far. I just hope to keep the form coming and play well tomorrow again.
“I’ve just got to stay focused and try to stick to the same routine. Maybe I’ll work out this afternoon, hit a few balls and get back, hopefully get some good sleep and just do it again tomorrow. That’s always the plan.
“It’s a round of golf. You’ve got to be happy with the situation and this is what we practice for. I loved playing with Sergio today. He’s a good friend, from Austin, Texas, as well, and had a wonderful time with him today.”
Round three scores:
201 J Rose (Eng) 66 70 65,
202 D Frittelli (RSA) 71 68 63, J Rahm (Esp) 69 68 65,
203 D Burmester (RSA) 70 68 65, T Fleetwood (Eng) 73 65 65, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 69 67 67,
204 J Suri (USA) 68 68 68, P Uihlein (USA) 71 68 65, P Dunne (Irl) 67 70 67, T Hatton (Eng) 72 63 69,
205 A Björk (Swe) 67 71 67, P Reed (USA) 65 72 68,
206 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 67 67 72, S Garcia (Esp) 70 69 67, D Lipsky (USA) 70 72 64,
207 S Lowry (Irl) 69 70 68, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 70 72 65, R Fisher (Eng) 71 68 68, M Kaymer (Ger) 68 72 67, C Shinkwin (Eng) 72 69 66, S Kjeldsen (Den) 68 69 70,
208 R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 73 69 66, F Molinari (Ita) 69 71 68, S Hend (Aus) 66 71 71, M Pavon (Fra) 71 70 67, L Haotong (Chn) 72 69 67, R Sterne (RSA) 71 71 66,
209 H Porteous (RSA) 70 70 69, C Schwartzel (RSA) 70 72 67, I Poulter (Eng) 70 69 70,
210 A Otaegui (Esp) 71 69 70, V Dubuisson (Fra) 75 67 68,
211 E Pepperell (Eng) 75 70 66, R Fox (Nzl) 67 71 73, T Olesen (Den) 74 68 69, B Grace (RSA) 72 71 68, J Wang (Kor) 71 70 70,
212 R Ramsay (Sco) 72 72 68, D Horsey (Eng) 68 76 68, F Zanotti (Par) 67 75 70,
213 P Larrazábal (Esp) 69 70 74, J Smith (Eng) 75 67 71, S Jamieson (Sco) 76 71 66, A Levy (Fra) 67 76 70, A Noren (Swe) 74 69 70, A Sullivan (Eng) 68 76 69,
214 D Drysdale (Sco) 73 72 69, P Waring (Eng) 70 74 70, C Wood (Eng) 70 74 70, J Luiten (Ned) 73 70 71,
216 A Dodt (Aus) 70 77 69, G Storm (Eng) 76 74 66, N Colsaerts (Bel) 68 76 72, L Westwood (Eng) 75 73 68, M Warren (Sco) 72 76 68,
217 L Bjerregaard (Den) 75 74 68, H Tanihara (Jpn) 73 77 67,
218 B Wiesberger (Aut) 71 76 71,
220 T Pieters (Bel) 74 74 72,
221 G Coetzee (RSA) 70 76 75,