The 2017 European Tour season is poised for a thrilling climax with the Race to Dubai battle between Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose going down to the wire at the DP World Tour Championship.
DP World Tour Championship
Rose will start the final round on top of both the projected standings and the leaderboard after a superb par-save at the last capped a bogey-free 65, but Fleetwood is just two shots behind following a remarkable back-nine barrage of birdies on day three at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Sergio Garcia, the only other contender who can be crowned European No 1, is not out of the equation after a 67 kept him within five of the lead, but he requires a victory and an unlikely final-day collapse from Rose and Fleetwood to clinch the Harry Vardon Trophy.
Rose regained the advantage over long-time Race to Dubai leader Fleetwood and claimed pole position in his bid for a third consecutive victory, although he will be wary that 21 players are within six shots of the lead after 54 holes.
The in-form Englishman birdied two of the first three holes and picked up another at the long seventh just as Fleetwood revived his round after playing the opening seven holes in one over par.
Fleetwood did not take advantage of either of the front-nine par-fives and bogeyed the fifth, but he lifted his spirits with welcome birdies at the eighth and ninth before making it three in a row at the next.
The 26-year-old then picked up four shots in a row from the 13th to propel himself back up the leaderboard at pace, and he missed a good chance for another at 17 before knocking a sweet second to 12 feet at the last – his ball narrowly clearing the creek at the front-left of the green
Fleetwood played for too much borrow with his eagle attempt, but he tapped in for his eighth birdie of the day to close on 13-under par and claim a share of fourth with Dean Burmester (65) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who birdied the last five holes to card a 67.
Tommy Fleetwood recovered from a poor start to his third round of the DP World Tour Championship with a stunning back-nine charge in Dubai.
Rose, meanwhile, remained focused on his own game and made three straight birdies from the 12th before adding another at 16 which earned him the outright lead on 15 under ahead of Dylan Frittelli, who had earlier birdied four of the last five holes in a flawless nine-under 63.
But after a 12-foot birdie putt lipped out at the 17th, Rose was staring a bogey in the face at the last when he found the creek with his ambitious second shot, prompting a lengthy discussion with officials over whether his ball had crossed the hazard line.
He was forced to take his penalty drop behind the water, but he pitched to seven feet and held his nerve to roll in the tricky right-to-left putt for par which kept him one clear of Frittelli and playing-partner Jon Rahm.
The recently-crowned European Tour Rookie of the Year made a nervy start with a bogey at the first, but he responded with five birdies in seven holes to turn in 32 before the putts dried up over the first five holes of the back nine.
But the Spaniard finished with a flourish and birdied three of the last four to match Rose’s 65 and join Frittelli on 14 under, with Fleetwood, Aphibarnrat and Burmester just one stroke further adrift.
British Masters champion Paul Dunne also picked up three shots over the final four holes to close out a faultless 67 which got him to 12 under alongside Tyrrell Hatton, who was one over for his round after 13 holes before sandwiching birdies at 13 and 15 with an eagle at the long 14th.
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Dunne and Hatton share seventh with Julian Suri (68) and Peter Uihlein (65), but overnight leader and defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick endured a difficult day and could muster only two birdies against a pair of bogeys which saw him slip five shots behind Rose.