Fitzpatrick Wins Tournament ($3 million); Westwood Wins Race to Dubai ($2 million)
December 13, 2020
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Matthew Fitzpatrick, who hadn't won in two years, set out to end that drought by making birdies at each of the first four holes at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Sunday. He added a birdie at the seventh hole and then held on throughout the back nine to win the DP World Championship -- and $3 million (2,481,627 euros).
The 26-year-old Englishman posted his fourth consecutive round in the 60's, a 4-under-par 68, which put his 72-hole total at 273 (15 under), and that was good enough for a one-stroke victory over his fellow Englishman Lee Westwood. Westwood, 21 years Fitzpatrick's senior at age 47, birdied two of the last three holes, and he, too, shot 68 to finish at 274.
In addition to deciding the tournament champion, there was another matter to be determined on Sunday. This was the last tournament on the 2019-20 European Tour schedule, and the culmination of the Race to Dubai, the European Tour's season-long competition. The winner of that got the Harry Vardon Trophy, symbolic of being the King of the European Tour -- and $2 million.
Patrick Reed, 30, entered the tournament No. 1 in the Race to Dubai standings. (Tommy Fleetwood was No. 2, and Westwood No. 3.) He was trying to become the first American to win the Race to Dubai, and he said numerous times during the week that if it could do it, it would be very big deal for him. And for most of the weekend it looked as though he would do it. The 2018 Masters champ had put together a masterly 64 on Friday. That was the low round of the week, and it staked him to a two-stroke lead over Fitzpatrick going into the last two rounds.
On Saturday, Reed wasn't nearly as sharp tee to green, but his short game was sensational. He rescued the round by holing a bunker shot for a birdie at the 371-yard, par-4 15th hole, getting up and down from 70 yards for a par at the 486-yard, par-4 16th, hitting an exquisite chip shot to save another par at the par-3 17th (195 yards), and then hitting a wedge to 8 feet at the par-5 18th (620) and making that putt for a birdie. Four holes, three putts -- 2 under.
His 71 enabled him to remain at the top of the leader board, with a 54-hole aggregate of 205, although he was now sharing first place with Fitzpatrick and the tournament's X Factor -- Laurie Canter.
While Fitzpatrick was lighting up the front nine on Sunday, Reed was holding his own. After uncharacteristically dumping a flop shot into a bunker and making a bogey at the 583-yard, par-5 second hole, he made long putt for a birdie at the 228-yard, par-3 fourth hole and a 10-footer for birdie at the sixth. He then chipped in for a birdie at the par-5 seventh (572 yards).
That moved him up into sole possession of second place, which would be good enough to win the Race to Dubai, because Fitzpatrick started the tournament ranked No. 16 in the Race to Dubai.
From the seventh hole on, Fitzpatrick's strategy was to bore the course into submission -- fairways, greens and pars. And it was working. He was 16 under, and no one else ever got closer than 14 under.
Reed was 13 under when he made the turn. He three-putted the green at the 476-yard, par-4 12th, but came right back with a an 8-foot birdie putt at the par-3 13th (204 yards) and two holes later chipped in again for another birdie at the 15th (where he had holed his blast for a birdie on Saturday). With that, he was 14 under par and alone in second place, still in position to win the Vardon Trophy.
At the long par-4 16th, however, he hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker for the second day in a row, and this time he couldn't save his par. He was now 13 under par, and up ahead, Westwood had stiffed his approach at the 16th, and his birdie there put him at 13 under.
Meanwhile, Mr. X, Canter, who was playing with Fitzpatrick, had been on a roller coaster ride, with birdies at 1 and 3, bogeys at 4 and 7, and another birdie at 8. He started the back nine with a birdie at 10, bogeyed 13, but then two-putted for a birdie at the par-5 14th (626 yards), and when he made an 8-footer for a birdie at the 15th, he was 14 under.
Suddenly, Reed needed to play the last two holes in 1 under again, as he had done Saturday, to have realistic chance of winning the Race. But he missed the green at the 17th when his tee shot went long and into a bunker, from which he failed to save his par. So he was now 12 under, and Westwood was in the process of getting up and down from a bunker on 18 for a birdie, which gave him a third consecutive 68 and a cumulative 274 -- 14 under.
That meant Reed had to make an eagle at the 18th. He missed the fairway with his drive, and also with his layup, and he missed the green with his third shot from the rough. Nevertheless, he did have one more bit of magic to pull from his bag -- his third chip-in of the round -- but his closing birdie wasn't enough. He finished with a 70 and tied Viktor Hovland for third at 275.
Hovland, 23, who claimed his second PGA Tour title in the 18 months since he turned professional last week at Mayakoba, managed to overcome his jet lag in Dubai, and after starting with a 71, he played the last three rounds in 12 under (69-66-69) to claim his share of third.
With Reed now out of the picture, Fitzpatrick needed to win the tournament and Westwood to finish tied for second, not alone in second. That looked likely, because Canter was still at 14 under as they waited to hit their tee shots to the island green complex at 17. Both Fitzpatrick and Canter play fast, and they had to wait a long time on the 17th tee.
When the green finally cleared, they both hit their shots short of the green, and the balls rolled back toward the water. There was no danger that they would get wet, but both balls ended up in awkward spots, with the grain going against them, and both players faced tricky shots. Fitzpatrick barely got his pitch shot onto the green and was faced with a 30-foot putt for par.
Then it was Canter's turn, and things got really ugly. He didn't catch his pitch cleanly and the ball never reached the green. It came back to him -- and settled into a divot. From there, he still didn't get the ball all the way onto the green, but at least it stayed on the fringe, and he two-putted from for a double bogey 5, dropping him to 12 under par.
Westwood was now alone in second place -- and if it ended that way, he would win the Race to Dubai.
That was how it ended. Fitzpatrick banged his par putt 4 feet past the hole at 17, which produced the possibility of a playoff between him and Westwood. But he made the bogey putt and concluded his round with a routine two-putt par at the 18th to claim his sixth European Tour victory, and his second at this tournament. He had won prviously in Dubai in 2016.
Canter made par at the 18th, as well, for a 71. It was his ninth par of the day, to go with six birdies, three bogeys and that costly bogey at the 17th, which demoted him from a tie for second to a tie for fifth with Sami Valimakid at 276.
This was the third time Westwood has finished the year as the No. 1 player in Europe, 20 years after he did it for the first time. In 2000, there was no such thing as the Race to Dubai, but there was when he claimed the top spot on the European Tour again in 2009.
Afterward, Fitzpatrick joked that Westwood should stop hogging the Race to Dubai crown and let one of the younger players win it. But even though he didn't get the $2 million for finishing first, Fitzpatrick did get $1.2 million for ending up second. Reed got $700,000 for third.
For most of the first three days, Erik Van Rooyen looked as if he might be a contender as the Race came down the stretch. Van Rooyen, a 30-year-old former University of Minnesota star who earned his first victory as a professional in the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am at Southview CC in 2016 (first place was worth $6,000). He's been dealing with a back injury for the past two months, but in spite of that, he arrived in Dubai ranked No. 14 in the Race to Dubai standings (two places ahead of Fitzpatrick), and he opened with a 68 at Jumeirah. That had him in a tie for second.
A 73 on Day 2 didn't exactly help his cause, but he was 5 under through 14 holes on Saturday (and only one shot behind Reed at that point) before three consecutive bogeys derailed him. He had to settle for a 70, shot 71 on Sunday and tied for 14th at 282, which was worth $69,056. Van Rooyen ended year at No. 13 in the Race to Dubai standings.
Since gaining full status on the European Tour at the beginning of the 2017-18 season, the former Minnesota State Amateur champion (2012) has won once, come close a few other times, and earned more that 4 million euros. That's the equivalent of more than $4.84 million at the current exchange rate.
DP World Championship, Dubai
At Jumeirah Golf Estates
Par 72, 7,675 yards
1. Matthew Fitzpatrick $3,000,000 68-68-69-68--273
2. Lee Westwood $850,000 70-68-68-68--274
T3. Patrick Reed $432,500 70-64-71-70--275
T3. Viktor Hovland $432,500 71-69-66-69--275
T5. Laurie Canter $231,000 71-66-68-71--276
T5. Sami Valimaki $231,000 69-69-69-69--276
7. Victor Perez $175,000 67-74-69-68--278
T8. Tyrrell Hatton $137,500 69-68-72-70--279
T8. Branden Grace $137,500 72-66-72-69--279
T14. Erik Van Rooyen $69,056 68-73-70-71--282
Race to Dubai prize money
1. Lee Westwood $2,000,000
2. Matthew Fitzpatrick $1,200,000
3. Patrick Reed $700,000
4. Tommy Fleetwood $600,000
5. Collin Morikawa $500,000