Race to Dubai: Tommy Fleetwood relaxed ahead of three-way fight at DP World Tour Championship
Englishman holds slender leads over Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia as season-ending European Tour competition gets underway on Thursday
Tommy Fleetwood is feeling relaxed as he prepares for a three-way fight for the Race to Dubai title when the DP World Tour Championship tees off in Dubai this week.
Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia are the only three players left with a chance to win the competition to crown the European Tour's No 1 player at the season-ending tournament, which gets underway at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Thursday.
Fleetwood (4,235,987 points) leads the standings, with Rose (3,979,250) in second and Garcia (3,184,582) in third.
The Englishman could have sealed the race on Sunday had he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in South Africa. But the 26-year-old player had to settle for a share of the 10th place while home boy Branden Grace was crowned champion.
Heading into the Gary Player-hosted event, Fleetwood had been under pressure from compatriot Rose after the latter clinched back-to-back titles at the WGC Champions in Shanghai last month and the Turkish Airlines Open at Antalya a week later.
Fleetwood, though, said he was not feeling the heat.
"I have a long flight with a lot of time to spend doing nothing and a lot more time doing nothing, as well. So I've got to try and take my mind off it," Fleetwood was quoted as saying on the European Tour website.
"But it is what it is. I've played brilliant all year. I think to be in with a chance of winning the Race to Dubai, it's pretty special, really. It's not a burden. I don't feel stressed about it, I don't feel anxious. I just think it's great that I've got the chance to win it and a good chance."
One thing fuelling Fleetwood's quiet confidence is the fact the onus is on him to win the title.
"And as much as it depends on what they do, it is in my hands. I can take it out of everybody's hands but we'll see," he said.
"I don't know how I'll feel next week. It's going to be a new experience, it's going to be a great experience," he added. "Playing in the Race to Dubai is very, very special and it's something that actually very few people get the chance to do."
Fleetwood is proud of his performance this year, which began at Abu Dhabi where he won the HSBC Golf Championship in January. It was a win that propelled him into stardom. He will hope to bookend the year with another win in the UAE.
"I'm very proud of the year overall," he said. "We'll see how it goes. Hopefully I can come back on Sunday and I've won both, I've won the tournament and the Race to Dubai. That would be great, wouldn't it?"
Grace was at his best as he holed a stunning 40-foot putt on the 16th green to claim victory at Sun City on Sunday.
The South African entered the final round three shots behind Scott Jamieson, but a closing bogey-free 66 moved him to 11 under and handed him a one-shot victory over the Scot, who signed for a 70.
Frenchman Victor Dubuisson also recorded a 70 to finish at nine under as the three playing partners produced a dramatic finish to the seventh Rolex Series event of the season on the European Tour.
Grace took advantage of the par five second and hit excellent approaches to birdie the fifth and sixth but was a shot behind Dubuisson at the turn.
Grace, 29, continued to make the most of the par fives and gains on the 10th and 14th put him in a three-way tie at the top before he made that crucial putt to take the title and complete a momentous week when he also found out his wife was having a baby boy.
"It's a dream come true to win at Sun City and to win Africa's major," he said at the trophy presentation. "It's a very special week, we found out on Wednesday we're having a boy.
"I had to stay patient and I had to take the chances when they came my way. I missed a couple of short ones but I think the big key was the putt on 16."
China's Li Haotong posted the lowest round of the week with a 64 to finish seven under, a shot ahead of two-time major winner Martin Kaymer and two clear of Englishman Lee Westwood and South African Darren Fichardt.
Matthew Fitzpatrick was at four under, a shot ahead of two more Englishmen in Tommy Fleetwood and Graeme Storm.
Updated: November 12, 2017 08:42 PM