The European Tour’s year-long Race to Dubai prize is there for the taking for Justin Rose with 18 holes to play in the season finale, the DP World Tour Championship.
But the same can be said for Tommy Fleetwood.
Indeed, Sunday at Jumeirah Golf Estates is setting up to be a memorable day as Rose takes a one-stroke lead over Dylan Frittelli and Jon Rahm into the final round and a two-stroke edge on Fleetwood. A win by either Rose, No. 2 in the points standings entering the week, or Fleetwood, No. 1, would guarantee them the Race to Dubai title and the $1.25 million bonus.
Low scores were in abundance on Saturday in the Middle East as Rose, winner of his previous two European Tour starts, shot a bogey-free 65 to take the lead at 15 under. Highlights of the round for Rose included a chip-in for birdie on the par-3 13th hole and a 45-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.
“There’s a hunger and motivation there,” Rose said of his impressive streak of play that began roughly a month ago when he claimed the WGC-HSBC Champions title in a Sunday comeback, then followed it up with another Sunday rally to win the Turkish Airlines Open.
This time, Rose has the lead, but he says things aren’t all that different.
“It’s about playing good golf tomorrow,” Rose said. “With a one-shot lead, there’s no strategy. It’s about playing well tomorrow.”
After a frustrating opening-round 73, Fleetwood has posted back-to-back 65s himself. On the back nine Saturday, Fleetwood birdied five of his final six holes to put him in the third-to-last group going off Sunday.
Rose, winner of the European Tour’s Order of Merit in 2007, could still claim the Race to Dubai title with a solo second finish so long as Fleetwood doesn’t win the DP title on Sunday. Rose could also win with as low as a top five finish should Fleetwood stumble on Sunday.
Fifteen players are within five shots of the lead, including Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a shot at winning the Race to Dubai title entering the week. Garcia sits at 10 under after a Saturday 67, five strokes back of Rose and needing a fair bit of help to claim the year-long title.
Of the top 15 players on the leader board, just one failed to shoot a round in the 60s on Saturday. That was second-round leader and defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, whose even-par 72 dropped him back into T-13.