McIlroy takes the Race to Dubai title while Rahm wins in the United Arab Emirates

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Another year without a Major was no less special for Rory McIlroy, who on Sunday became Europe’s top-ranked golfer for the fourth time and became only the second player to win the season’s title on the PGA Tour and European Tour.

Jon Rahm thought the same.

Rahm opened with three straight birdies on his way to a 5-under-67 to win the DP World Tour Championship for the third time with two shots over England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Sweden’s Alex Noren.

“Hopefully people can stop telling me it’s been a bad year,” Rahm said. “Three wins worldwide, three wins on three different continents. Yes, it wasn’t a big championship, but it’s still a really, really good season.”

Rahm also won the PGA Tour’s Mexican Open and the Spanish Open, along with the European Tour’s season finale, which carried a $3 million prize.

He finished the Jumeirah Golf Estates with 20 under 268.

McIlroy has been eight since his last major – he finished in the top 8 in all four majors this year – but has won the FedEx Cup and its $18 million bonus, as well as the Canadian Open and the CJ Cup in South Carolina.

Along the way, he returned to world No. 1.

“I think my goal was to become a more complete golfer and I feel like I’m on my way there,” McIlroy said. “I’m the most perfect golfer I’ve ever felt and hopefully I can continue on that path.”

McIlroy’s biggest challenge in the DP world rankings came from Matt Fitzpatrick, whose Harry Vardon Trophy bid exploded at the turn.

The US Open winner had to win and McIlroy not finish second or finish second and the Northern Irishman had to be outside the top 7. Neither scenario materialized as Fitzpatrick, three off the lead, double bogeyed in 8th place and then fired another shot in 10th place to end his chances.

McIlroy didn’t need the fireworks from the previous day as he drove into the competition with a 65. He could have tied Rahm with an eagle on the par 5 18, but had to settle for par and a 68.

“That means a lot. It’s been seven years since I last did it. I’ve won three FedEx Cups since my last win,” McIlroy, who won the FedEx Cup in August, told Sky Sports television.

“It would have been nice to win there at the end of the year but Jon played an incredible tournament and totally deserved it.”

In 2013, Henrik Stenson is the only other player to win the FedEx Cup and European Points List in the same year.

Rahm, the first player to win the tournament three times, started the finals day with a one-shot lead and quickly doubled his lead.

Fitzpatrick’s 28-foot birdie on the third got him under 15 and within two, but things started to unravel with a bogey on the short sixth, and although he immediately scraped that drop shot back, the disastrous eighth ultimately did his hopes.

His drive landed in a deep rut in a waste area, his next shot failed to clear the rough, and after flying the green, he missed his chip and made a two-putt from the rim for a 6. That landed him five behind and after missing the fairway on the 10th that resulted in a bogey his challenge was over.

The only problem McIlroy, who had three birdies and a bogey in his first four holes, had on the eighth came from the flagpole holding off his 56-foot birdie effort. He made a three putter on the ninth green but wasn’t the only one as Hatton did the same for his lone bogey in a round of 66.

Noren finished on a 67 and his tie in second place should put him just outside the top 40 and likely secure a top 50 spot for a Masters invite by the end of the year.

___

More AP Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *