Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

DP World Tour Championship: Bernd Wiesberger keeps eyes on the prize as Race for Dubai nears its climax

Austrian off the pace after Day 1 at the DP World Tour Championship , as Rahm and Fleetwood keep the pressure on

Bernd Wiesberger on the 1st tee during Day 1 of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Getty
Bernd Wiesberger on the 1st tee during Day 1 of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Getty

In pole position in the Race to Dubai and beginning the decisive DP World Tour Championship alongside his closest challenger, Bernd Wiesberger knew exactly what was at stake.

"It definitely feels if you go out there, No 1 and 2, like you're in a Sunday shootout in a way, but it's not,” said the Austrian, who with victory or solo second this week would land a first European No 1 crown.

Wiesberger has to see off four Race contenders, chief among them Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm. They began the season-concluding event on Thursday with a 5-under 67 and a 6-under 66, respectively, to keep the pressure firmly on Wiesberger.

Out last with Fleetwood, Wiesberger collected three bogeys and two birdies in his first 10 holes, but picked up three shots to come in at 2-under. Consequently, he sits 14th, with Rahm third and Fleetwood tied-4th.

Yet, if the season finished now, Wiesberger would snaffle the Order of Merit. Not that he’s getting ahead of himself.

“Three more rounds of golf,” he said. “I try to cherish it as much as I can. I'm just thinking 72-hole tournament this week. I'm not trying to look at what's happening. I can't control what Tommy, Matt [Fitzpatrick], Shane [Lowry] and Jon are doing.

"I'm trying to play for a tournament here and I'm trying to play for the Race to Dubai title. And if I do my very best to finish this tournament as high as possible, that's all I can do. We'll add it up at the end.”

Ditto Rahm. Tournament champion in 2017 and T4th last year, he clearly loves the event. That affinity helped him overcome six weeks off from competitive golf to post Thursday's third lowest round.

"The only time [the leaderboard] matters is when the last putt is made," Rahm said. "Up until then it's all possibilities and probabilities. Just try to look at what I have coming up the next three days; that's about it."

While Fitzpatrick and Lowry seemed to play their way out of contention for European No 1 honours – Fitzpatrick shot 71 and Lowry 73 – Fleetwood is right in the mix. An eagle from the fairway on the first set him on his way.

“You can only put yourself out of it on Day 1,” he said. “There's a lot more to do. I've got three days of work left, really, until the end of the year. Just make the most of them.

“I would love to be up there come Sunday, but that's a very long way away.”

Updated: November 22, 2019 12:25 PM

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