DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Jon Rahm is $5 million richer after capturing the Race to Dubai title on the European Tour on Sunday by winning the season-ending World Tour Championship with a birdie on the final hole.
The world No. 5 got up and down from a greenside bunker at the 18th hole to win the tournament by a stroke from Tommy Fleetwood, who also would have become European No. 1 with a win on the Earth Course.
Rahm, who started the final round tied for the lead with Mike Lorenzo-Vera, led by six shots after birdying five of his first seven holes.
However, Fleetwood – playing one group ahead – birdied five of his last seven holes, with his tap-in birdie at No. 18 giving him a 7-under 65 and tying for the lead with Rahm as the Spaniard was putting on the 17th green.
Rahmâ€™s birdie putt there came up a few centimeters short so he needed a birdie on the par-5 last to finish ahead of Fleetwood. His drive was perfect, his approach found the bunker, but he chipped out to 4 feet and rolled in the putt for a 68 as Fleetwood watched in the scorerâ€™s tent.
Rahm said something Jack Nicklaus said when the 18-time major champion spoke about his British Open win in 1966 were his inspiration as he stood on the 16th tee.
â€œI heard Jack said once, about the Open Championship in Muirfield when he won, he told himself if you finish 3-4-4, you win,â€ Rahm said. â€œI told myself, â€˜Jon, youâ€™re on 16, one-shot lead, finish 4-3-4, you win the tournament.â€™ And I played three great holes.â€
Rahm, who finished 19 under par overall, earned $3 million for winning the event, and a bonus of $2 million for winning the Race to Dubai.
Rahm is only the second Spaniard to finish a season as European Tourâ€™s No. 1 player, after the late Seve Ballesteros.
â€œI feel like Iâ€™m going to start crying,â€ Rahm said.
Fleetwood, who started the day four shots off the lead, was eight shots behind after Rahmâ€™s flurry of birdies in the opening seven holes. Still, he managed to take Rahm down to the last.
â€œProud of the way I played the last few holes, proud of my season,â€ said Fleetwood, who won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa last week to move into contention for a second Race to Dubai title in three years.
â€œFair play to Jon. Cracking birdie down the last when he needed to make it.â€
Fleetwood finished second in the Race to Dubai standings, with Bernd Wiesberger in third place.
Lorenzo-Vera shot 70 and placed third Sunday.
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