English Duo Claim European Tour Titles
In what was a dramatic final day, Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick claimed the DP World Tour Championship by one-shot, with fellow countryman Lee Westwood finishing second to win the Race to Dubai finale.
It was an incredible Sunday with a number of players vying for the title as the lead in both tournaments changed hands several times.
But, the English pairing rose above the field and claimed their respective titles in what was a fierce tussle.
Final Round Overview
Fitzpatrick started the day in a share of the lead, but pulled ahead, as his impressive start of four consecutive birdies took him clear of the field.
Patrick Reed, who was the nearest challenger in both the Race to Dubai and DP World Tour Championship, was playing in the group ahead, and had recovered from an early bogey to birdie the fourth, sixth and the seventh to keep in touch with Fitzpatrick.
However, the Englishman would follow Reed with a birdie at the seventh and a holed par-putt from the fringe on the eighth, to put the 26-year-old three ahead after the front nine.
With a comfortable cushion, Fitzpatrick would make seven consecutive pars on the back nine, before a wayward drive on the 17th cost him his first dropped shot of the day.
Meanwhile, the chasing pack was struggling to keep pace, with nearest challenger, Reed, three putting the 12th and then birdieing the next to keep the margin at three.
Another chip-in at the 15th was then followed up with a bogey at the next, which saw Reed lose his projected Race to Dubai lead as Laurie Canter made back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes.
Reed then fell further behind with a bogey at the par-three 17th. Elsewhere, two-time Order of Merit winner Westwood birdied two of his three last holes to set the clubhouse target.
Playing the 18th, Fitzpatrick was forced to lay up after another poor tee shot, but he played his third shot to 25 feet and two-putted for par to overtake Westwood and set the target at 15-under-par.
Although he had lost the tournament lead, a closing par for Canter ensured Westwood would end the week in solo second and win the European Tour’s Order of Merit for the first time since 2009.
Reed must have been disappointed to miss out on the Race to Dubai and the tournament victory, but didn’t give up, and a third chip in of the day on the last put him in a T3 finish alongside Norwegian Viktor Hovland.
Race to Dubai
Lee Westwood revealed he only realised he still had a chance of ending the season as European No 1 after finishing his final round on Sunday.
The Englishman became the oldest player to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai at 47 years of age, 20 years on from winning his first of three Order of Merit titles.
Due to Hovland, Reed and Canter not being able to match his score over the final few holes, Westwood took the title by just 18 points.
Patrick Reed was looking to become the first American to win the Race to Dubai crown, but an inconsistent back nine of three birdies and three bogies ultimately cost the American the title.
“I went out trying to win the tournament,” Westwood said. “That was the best and the simplest thing to try and do. There’s so many permutations that can happen on a day like today.
“It can all get too confusing if you let it. You might as well just go out there and shoot as low a score as you can on each individual hole.
“I figured I needed to finish 15-under to win the tournament. There weren’t really any thoughts of the Race to Dubai until I got into the scoring tent afterwards and looked at it all and realised I’ve still got a chance.”
Westwood breaks records
The win means that Westwood overtakes Colin Montgomerie as the oldest player to win the Race to Dubai by five years.
“They [Race to Dubai wins] have all been very different,” Westwood added. “I guess 2000, I was winning a lot, but I was still up-and-coming. It was only my seventh year on Tour.
“In 2009, I was honing in on the best player in the world spot, and I needed to win here to win the Race to Dubai, and I managed to do that. And then this one, I’m kind of the more mature player on the European Tour now.
“It wasn’t something I set out to do at the start of the year, but it shows the consistency I’ve shown. The most satisfying thing is doing it under pressure when it matters.”
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