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.
Rahm’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 scorer’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.
“I heard Jack said once, about the Open Championship in Muirfield when he won, he told himself if you finish 3-4-4, you win,” Rahm said. “I told myself, ‘Jon, you’re on 16, one-shot lead, finish 4-3-4, you win the tournament.’ And I played three great holes.”
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 Tour’s No. 1 player, after the late Seve Ballesteros.
“I feel like I’m going to start crying,” Rahm said.
Fleetwood, who started the day four shots off the lead, was eight shots behind after Rahm’s flurry of birdies in the opening seven holes. Still, he managed to take Rahm down to the last.
“Proud of the way I played the last few holes, proud of my season,” 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.
“Fair play to Jon. Cracking birdie down the last when he needed to make it.”
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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