Jon Rahm must have felt like Steven Bradbury as he cruised to victory at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The Spaniard claimed his second win on the European Tour and watched from the scoring tent as each of his pursuers, namely Justin Rose, suffered late slips that also ensured Tommy Fleetwood would clinch the Race to Dubai title.
Rahm closed with a faultless five-under 67 to reach 19-under-par for the tournament and sign off on what has been a remarkable European season.
“What I’ve done this year, especially on the European Tour from no member, nothing, to an affiliate to European Tour Champion to actually be Rolex Series Champion and winner of the DP World Tour Championship, it’s something unbelievable,” Rahm said.
The 23-year-old has risen to World No.4 after his win at Jumeirah Golf Estates, yet he still remains level-headed.
“It does prove to myself that I belong to be here,” Rahm said. “I belong to be on the European Tour and I belong to be on the PGA Tour. It’s a great week for me mentally in that sense.”
Meanwhile Rose, in atypical fashion, faltered badly on his final nine holes. The Englishman looked as though he would win the event and top the money list before succumbing to three back-nine bogies and slipping to a share of fourth.
“It’s tough to come up just one shot short,” Rose said. “But congratulations to Tommy. He’s been leading for most of the year and he’s battled really hard these past few weeks.”
The collapse from Rose meant Fleetwood would win the Race to Dubai and collect the US$1.25 million bonus cheque. The 26-year-old was a classy winner and paid tribute to his countryman once he was sure he had won the title.
“It’s the biggest day of my career for sure,” Fleetwood said. “The emotions were difficult on me because I don’t trust computers, so even when everything had finished, it was so difficult (to know whether I had won).
“Then I felt for Justin a lot, you know, because I saw him when he came in … I think how gracious he was shows a lot about his character.”
Elsewhere, Shane Lowry shot the round of the day – a nine-under 63 – to charge to 18-under-par for the tournament and take the early clubhouse lead. And Kiradech Aphibarnrat birdied the 18th to join him with a share of second place.
Andrew Dodt was the best of the Australians, finishing in a tie for 36th. While Scott Hend finished with a share of 48th and was unable to capitalise on a blistering opening round that featured seven birdies.