Shane Lowry joined Paul Dunne in the automatic Ryder Cup places and regained his place as Ireland’s No 1 after a nine-under 63 gave him a share of second in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
As Tommy Fleetwood held off a spluttering Justin Rose to become European No 1 in Dubai, Lowry closed with his lowest European Tour round for six years to claim €612,355, a move to 58th in the world, a place in The Open and a top-eight spot in the early Ryder Cup standings.
Spain’s Jon Rahm completed a dream season by taking advantage of a back-nine wobble from Rose as well as late bogeys by fourth-placed Dean Burmester, Dylan Frittelli and Sergio Garcia to add the final Rolex Series event to his European Tour Rookie of the Year success.
As Paul Dunne double bogeyed the par-five second and shot a disappointing 75 to come home tied for 25th, Lowry’s 10-birdie round gave him the clubhouse leader on 18-under-par.
He was soon joined by Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat on another low-scoring day at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
And while he was only hoping for a top-five finish given the benign course set-up, it was 80 minutes before Rahm parred the last for a 67 that was eventually good enough for a one-shot win on 19-under par.
Rose shot a faultless four-under 32 on the front nine to get to 19-under but faltered down the stretch with bogeys at the 12th, 14th and 16th.
With Fleetwood sharing 21st on 11-under after a 74, Rose needed a birdie-birdie finish or an eagle at the 18th to claim the money title.
But he shaved the hole with a bunker shot at the 17th and then failed with a 100-foot eagle putt from just off the front edge at the last, eventually finishing two strokes behind Rahm in tied fourth.
Lowry was happy to bring his European Tour campaign to a close with his sixth top-12 finish from his last nine events and a move from 50th to 22nd in the Race to Dubai.
“I didn’t know I was going to shoot the best score of the season on my last day of the season,” said Lowry, who overtakes Dunne as the leading Irishman in world rankings.
“At least it gives me something to smile about going into my Christmas break.
“I’m happy with my results, a few World Ranking points and a few valuable Ryder Cup points, as well.
“A couple of my friends texted me before today and were saying I was due a good Sunday. There it is.” Speaking to Meridian Media’s Denis Kirwan, he added: “These last two months of golf have been quite enjoyable for me.
“I have given myself a couple of chances to do really well, I’ve had a couple of bad Sundays as well, but this is like payback for any bad scores on a Sunday.
“I have had a lot of good finishes over the last while, and I am very happy going into my off-season.”
It’s been a sensational season for Dunne, who finished 16th in the Race to Dubai with €1,695,041 and like Lowry, clinched a place in The Open at Carnoustie next year for finishing in the top 30 as well as starts in all the World Golf Championships for being in the top 20.
“A good year but a terrible day,” Dunne tweeted before heading off to finish his year in this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 season.
“Delighted for @TommyFleetwood1 winning Race to Dubai and thrilled for @ShaneLowryGolf #63”
Fleetwood, 26, was thrilled to become European number one after being pushed all the way by Rose, who won the Turkish Airlines Open and the Nedbank Golf Challenge to close the gap to just €256,737 heading into the final event “It’s the biggest day of my career for sure,” the Southport native said. “Then I felt for Justin a lot because I saw him when he came in. I think how gracious he was, shows a lot about his character.” Rose pointed to his bogey at the 12th as the big momentum killer but refused to beat himself up and paid tribute to Fleetwood.
“He fought hard for it, he’s earned it and he’s had a great year,” said Rose, who found water at the 14th and a fairway bunker at the 16th.
“It is not about a week or nine holes; it is about how you play over a year and he deserves it.”
As for Rahm, the Irish Open champion is now up to fourth in the world from 137th at the start of the year having won the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour and the Rolex Series events in Portstewart and Dubai.
“It’s a very special feeling,” said the 23-year-old, who has exceeded his expectations with three wins and 13 top-five finishes from just 36 professional starts.
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