England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick brilliantly captured a second DP World Tour Championship as compatriot Lee Westwood became the oldest winner of the European No.1 crown, claiming a third Race to Dubai title 20 years after the first and 11-years following his second.
Fitzpatrick, 26, fended-off all that was thrown at him first in racing clear of his rivals with four birdies in his opening four holes, then moving to five-under with a birdie on seven before playing his closing 11 holes in one-over in a round of 68 to win by a shot at 15-under par. Victory is the Englishman’s sixth win on his career since a debut triumph at the 2015 British Masters and his last in 2018 in successfully defending his Omega European Masters title.
“The start I got off to, four birdies in the first four, five under through seven, it’s a dream start,” he said. “Fortunately I managed to pull away from that and really sort of create some distance. It was just obviously a bit of a grind on the back nine. For me it was just about finishing one hole at a time and just getting through it. So managed to do that and finished well.
“I had no idea about the Race to Dubai because I knew where I started the week at 16, a lot needed to go my way. When I saw Lee at second, it did enter my head briefly going to 18, even if I win it’s probably not going to be enough, anyway. I just wanted to win a lot this week.
“I’m just trying to improve every year. I really set high standards of myself and I am honestly very hard on myself and my team will all tell you the same thing. To be here at 26, and I don’t know what this win has taken me to in the world, potentially my highest year-end ranking, I’m very, very happy.”
When Fitzpatrick won a first Tour title at the 2015 British Masters he splashed out in buying a new Ford Mondeo and now after pocketing a €2,481,261 first prize it was suggested the proud Sheffield United fan could purchase his club a new striker. Fitzgerald laughed saying: “The prize money is a very nice bonus of the job. I’m more bothered about these (raising the DE World trophy) so I’ll just let it sink in the next few days, and I’ll have a think. Maybe I’ll buy myself something nice, who knows.”
Westwood faced a clearly very anxious wait following his last day score of a third straight round of 68 for an eventual 14-under par tally and a third European No.1 crown. He won a first in 2000, a second in 2009 and remarkably now a third in 2020 and was asked if he could speak about each victory coming, as they did, at different times in his career.
“They have all been very different. I guess 2000, sort of I was winning a lot, but I was still like up-and-coming. It was only my seventh year on Tour 2009, I was honing in on the best player in the world spot, and I needed to win here to win The Race to Dubai, and I managed to do that,” he said.
“And then this one, I’m kind of the more mature player on the European Tour now. It wasn’t something I set out to do at the start of the year, but it shows the consistency I’ve shown.The most satisfying thing is doing it under pressure when it matters. You know, coming out this week knowing nothing but a win or second will do, and pulling it off, really. You know, those last three holes, I’m really proud of — well, the last four holes, and I missed from three feet on 15.
“But my proximity to the hole today, my iron play was stunning. I missed from ten feet on the first, eight feet on the third, eight feet on the — sorry, eight feet on the fourth, eight feet on the fifth. It just kept — wouldn’t go in the hole. But I kept grinding it out and made two birdies in the last three holes, and a nice 15-footer on 17 when I needed to, so it’s very satisfying.
Westwood captured a third title in 15-years by just 17.8 points on the Race to Dubai and while revealing he had been on pain-killers all week for a nagging back injury, he was asked what he could buy with 16 Pound (The near equivalent to Euro 17.8)
“It’s a beer here in Dubai, isn’t it?,” he said. “It’s 16 quid a beer, for a pint of Peroni here, somebody was explaining about the other day. And a Scotch egg. You’ve got a substantial meal there (laughing).”
Westwood now faces the strong likelihood of being honoured with the ‘2020 European Golfer of the Year’ when this journalist joins the Tour voting panel on Friday. Norwegian sensation Viktor Hovland (69) shared third with Texan Patrick Reed and dropping shots at 16 and 17 to spoil all hopes of becoming the first American to become European No. 1
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