Englishman needs to win the tournament to retain his European Tour order of merit title but a 2-over par third round all but ends his hopes
Tommy Fleetwood concedes defeat in Race to Dubai after day to forget at DP World Tour Championship
On Day 1 of the DP World Tour Championship, a great escape from the side of the 18th green breathed life into Tommy Fleetwood’s Race to Dubai defence. Two days later, a duffed chip from a similar position all but confirmed the end of the dream.
The 27-year-old Englishman has to win this tournament, and hope his close pal Francesco Molinari finishes lower than fifth, to retain the Order of Merit title he won 12 months ago.
The latter part of that calculation seems assured. Molinari is running on empty at the end of his glorious campaign. He will tee it up at the start of its final round sitting tied-28th, on 5-under for the competition.
DP World Tour Championship: Pairings and tee times – final round
The idea that Fleetwood can somehow force a win, though, now seems far-fetched. He is just a stroke ahead of the man he is chasing in the overall standings, after signing for a 2-over 74 on Saturday, leaving him eight off the leaders.
Only three players in the field – Paul Dunne, Robert Rock and Ian Poulter – had worse returns in Round 3, and Fleetwood was dejected with how he had fared.
“You live and breathe the game, so there's going to be good bits and bad bits,” said Fleetwood.
“Today pretty much summed up the second half of the season. I've done plenty of good stuff in tournaments, and then had days like today.
“But it is what it is. I'm fine. Fit and healthy. I'll play golf tomorrow and that's it. I'll go home and I'll spend time with my son tonight. At the end of the day, it's just golf, but it does hurt when you have days like that.”
Fleetwood said the adrenaline that had fuelled the opening two days of his challenge had dissipated.
“I think you kind of know when your time's up,” Fleetwood said. “I lasted within two days of the [end of the] season. Like I've said, it was a stretch trying to win it.”
Molinari, too, appears to be stumbling over the winning line rather than racing through it, as he shot an indifferent round of 2-under.
“I think on Thursday, there was a little bit of adrenaline going and that helped me, definitely, to start with," he said.
“But at the moment it's just hard to keep the focus for 18 holes. Tomorrow, I feel there's a low one there because I'm hitting the ball well and I'm putting well enough; it's just a matter of doing it for 18 holes.”
The British Open champion said winning the Race to Dubai would represent a career highlight.
“It would mean a lot, no doubt,” Molinari said. “I don't know how many chances you get in a lifetime, in a career, to achieve something like that.”