05 January 2018
Rose’s Butterfly Effect
Justin Rose wasn’t able to claim the title in the DP World Tour Championship, the final leg of the Race to Dubai. The Englishman’s failure had a ripple effect with two players subsequently engraving the greatest achievements of their careers.
Justin Rose was walking a good path at the DP World Tour Championship. With seven holes to play, 4-under for the day and 19-under for the week, the 2013 US Open champion led the European Tour’s season-ending tournament by one stroke. It was enough to seat him at the top of the Race to Dubai standings. He was ready to repeat his success of 2007 when the 37-year-old Englishman won the European Tour Order of Merit.
Then, disaster struck. Rose made three bogeys on the 12th, 14th, and 16th holes of the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The World No. 6 finished three strokes behind clubhouse leader Jon Rahm of Spain who held steady to finish on a total of 19-under. Because of his slip in performance, Rose not only failed to claim the DP World Tour Championship title but also lost the Race to Dubai trophy.
“On the front-nine, I was playing great golf, but the bogey on the 12th seemed to kill all of my momentum,” said Rose, as quoted by Golf Digest.
“I got a little bit out of my routine and a little distracted, had a poor shot on the par-5 and then it was a struggle from there on in. The shots on 13 and 14 were the undoing," Rose told the Guardian.
The late collapse of Rose, who finished in tied fourth, gave Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood the chance to claim the greatest achievements of their career. Rahm, who was the Tour’s Rookie of the Year won the final title of the year. A third professional win was something that hadn’t crossed the Spaniard’s mind.
“When you accomplish something in life, it’s always a great feeling,” said the 23-year-old. “When you do something that you had in mind but wasn’t a goal for the end of the year, you accomplished something that was years down the road, is just such an incredible feeling.”
Rahm’s consistent, bogey-free game of 67 closed the title and lifted him to the top of the leaderboard. He finished 19-under-par, 269, grabbing the trophy by a stroke over Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and Irishman Shane Lowry who shot the lowest round of the final day (63).
“It’s a very special feeling,” said Rahm. “What I’ve done this year, especially on the European Tour, is really unbelievable. A year ago I wasn’t even a member. I’ve gone from nothing to an affiliate, to European Tour champion, to Rolex Series champion, to now twice Rolex Series champion and winner of the DP World Tour Championship. This is just such an incredible feeling.”
Meanwhile, Tommy Fleetwood beat Rose to become the surprise Race to Dubai title winner after his fellow Englishman was unable to shoot 2-under over the last two holes. Rose wrapped up his painful back-nine with a birdie on the 18th after failing to make an eagle to move up to second on the leaderboard. The Olympic champion needed to finish solo in fourth place or better to win his second Order of Merit title.
Fleetwood, who finished T-21 in the event, took home the Harry Vardon trophy as winner of the Race to Dubai, the European Tour’s Order of Merit.
The 26-year-old from Southport felt relieved after facing struggles with his performance over the last four months, including at the DP World Tour Championship. After winning the Open de France in early July, he battled to keep his position at the top of the Race to Dubai standing. Rose thinned the gap by claiming the WGC-HSBC Champion and Turkish Airline Open titles in the last three weeks, making it a hot race.
After hearing of Rose dropping shots on the 12th, 14th and 16th, Fleetwood was still waiting on the result of the last two holes. Finally, the stress was over when Rose lost a stroke and with it the chance to deny Fleetwood’s claim to the top spot in the Race to Dubai and the handsome $1.25 million bonus
“It’s kind of amazing,” said Fleetwood, who was the former World No. 1 amateur. “It’s not sunk in yet. It was great being out there today trying to win it. It was really out of my control over the last few holes.”
"It's the biggest day of my career for sure. The emotions were difficult on me. I don't trust computers, so even when everything had finished, it was so difficult to get up or down. Then I felt for Justin a lot. He was so gracious when he came in. Shows a lot about his character," said Fleetwood after accepting his trophy.