Tommy Fleetwood looked sure to win the season long ‘Race to Dubai‘ which starts next week. However Justin Rose has closed the gap and become a worthy contender to win what used to be known as the Oder of Merit and take the million pound cheque. The competition is a points system based on the amount of money won over the season and Fleetwood has a lead of 134838 points over Rose with just this week’s Nedbank Challenge in South Africa to go before next weeks finale in Dubai. Fleetwood had played in 22 events to reach his total whereas Rose has played in just 11 and Rose has chosen not to play in South Africa this week despite his two back to back victories giving him the momentum to make a late charge at the top spot.
A good showing by Fleetwood will put him further ahead and Rose may then regret not changing his planned schedule and playing in South Africa. It wont be the money that Rose will miss but the prestige of being crowned Europe’s number one player and join an illustrious band of previous winners that read like a who’s who of European golf. The event was dominated by Colin Montgomerie who headed the table an astonishing 8 times. Seve Ballesteros had won it 6 times and then there’s a host of top quality players including Rory Mcilroy, Ernie Els, and Nick Faldo who have each won it twice. With the best will in the world, Fleetwood isn’t in that class but fair play to him for entering so many tournaments and establishing a lead and showing consistent form throughout such a long season.
There is almost a tournament within a tournament going on at Sun City as only the top 60 players on the standings will qualify to play in next weeks lucrative tournament in Dubai. Those in contention for a place include Ian Poulter who is currently 63rd , Richard Sterne 61st and Paul Waring in 62nd. Poulter hasn’t got off to the best of starts with a 2 over par 74 which is one shot worse than Fleetwood and both will have to play better over the next 3 days to achieve their objectives.
It will make for an exciting finale next week if Fleetwood doesn’t get too far ahead and Rose returns in the unstoppable form he has been in in the last two weeks.