For the first time all week, a new man occupies the top spot on the leaderboard of the 2022 DP World Tour Championship. Former world No. 1 Jon Rahm was simply brilliant around Jumeirah Golf Estates on Saturday en route to his bogey-free 7-under 65. Carding seven birdies for the second consecutive day, the Spaniard has slowly meandered his way to 15 under and possesses a one-stroke lead over Matt Fitzpatrick.
With four birdies in his opening eight holes, a moment of unease arose on the difficult par-4 ninth. Making bogey on this hole the first two days, Rahm was forced to chip out of trouble before converting a momentum-saving par putt from just inside 15 feet. Adding three birdies on his inward half, Rahm has now positioned himself to become the first man to win the DP World Tour Championship three times.
"I don't think I could have shot any lower today," Rahm said. "Maximized the round. Wasn't my best off the tee but I was able to actually get some birdies out of some not so good situations. I didn't hit any of the fairways on the par fives and still played them three-under par. I'm hoping come tomorrow I can be a little better off the tee, and still keep the good iron play and good putting going."
First-round leader and 36-hole leader Fitzpatrick will be sure to apply some pressure as the Englishman battles for both the DP World Tour Championship and the season-long race. At 14 under, he is in the precarious position of trailing not only Rahm, but also Rory McIlroy as the world No. 1 is projected to win the Harry Vardon Trophy after his round of 7-under 65.
"Something I've learnt massively this year is to be more patient," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm not the best at it. I've got so much better, probably, since being told off by Billy [Foster, his caddie] in April. So I think that's been a big thing that's come on for me is just being patient and knowing that I'm playing some good golf. I feel really comfortable with my irons this week, and that's been a big, big change and a big step forward over the last few months. So, I'm looking forward going into tomorrow.
"It would mean the world [to win the DP World Tour Rankings]. I'm going to need a lot of things go my way," Fitzpatrick added. "I feel like this...could be a third win here, and if it happens, it could be all three times I've not won [the DP World Tour Rankings]."
McIlroy began his second round in a volatile fashion as two bogeys sandwiched an eagle in his first three holes. Making birdie on seven of his final 14 holes, the Northern Irishman has returned to the pole position in the season-long race ahead of the final 18 holes. McIlroy will attempt to join Henrik Stenson as the only men to win both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour season-long titles in the same year.
Round 3 leaderboard, scores
- 1. Jon Rahm: -15
- 2. Matt Fitzpatrick: -14
- 3. Alex Noren: -13
- T4. Rory McIlroy: -12
- T4. Tyrrell Hatton: -12
- T6. Tommy Fleetwood: -10
- T6. Adrian Meronk: -10
- 8. Jorge Campillo: -9
- T9. Maximilian Kieffer: -8
- T9. Kurt Kitayama: -8
DP World Tour Rankings up in the air heading into final day
Coming into the week, only seven players were able to win the DP World Tour Rankings. Through three rounds, this number has likely whittled down to only two as Fitzpatrick and McIlroy vie for the season-long crown. After commanding the lead the first two days, Fitzpatrick was projected to claim the title, but the four-time major champion has battled back with a vengeance courtesy of rounds of 68-65. Here are the scenarios for each player heading into the pivotal final round.
- Rory McIlroy: If he wins or finishes ahead of the other six, he wins the season-long race
- Matt Fitzpatrick: Has to finish in top two and have McIlroy finish worse than seventh
"It's really cool, I've got to this stage in the game over 15 years as a pro, and I'm still trying to do things for the first time," McIlroy said. "I've never won the FedExCup and this tour's rankings in the same year, so it would be really nice. It's been a wonderful year. I've played some really, really great golf and really consistent golf. If I'm able to go out there tomorrow and shoot a good score and get the job done, it would be a really nice way to end what's been a great year."
2022 DP World Tour Championship updated odds and picks
- Jon Rahm: 11/10
- Matt Fitzpatrick: 14/5
- Rory McIlroy: 9/2
- Alex Noren: 9-1
- Tyrrell Hatton: 12-1
This is reminiscent of the old Tour Championship on the PGA Tour for those unfamiliar with the DP World Tour Rankings. Rahm, Noren and Hatton have no chance to win the season-long crown while Fitzpatrick and McIlroy will shoulder the pressure of trying to claim victory in both the tournament at hand and the DP World Tour Rankings. With these odds applying strictly to the DP World Tour Championship, Rahm looks to be the fairest price and will remain our selection to win.