Justin Rose leads Race to Dubai with $13 million purse on the line on Sunday
Tommy Fleetwood is hot on his heels as the European Tour winds down
Justin Rose had an answer for Tommy Fleetwood's 65 on Friday. It was a 65 of his own on Saturday in Round 3 of the DP World Tour Championship. The 7-under score got Rose to 15 under overall, and he leads Jon Rahm and Dylan Frittelli by one and Fleetwood by two.
Rose and Fleetwood are, of course, locked in a battle for the Race to Dubai, too. The 65 on Saturday pushed Rose ahead of Fleetwood as the two head to Sunday, but any number of possibilities are still in play as the top 10 players will split the $5 million bonus.
Perhaps just as pressing is the $8 million purse for the final event of the European Tour season. Rose is looking for his third straight win, and Fleetwood is trying to cap a career year. Both were flawless on Saturday as they combined for 15 birdies and just one bogey.
Fleetwood, incredibly, was 1 over through his first seven holes but birdied eight of the next 11 to set himself up for a dream finish in Round 4.
"Did he?" asked Rose when he was told Fleetwood shot a 65. "I had no idea how he shot 65 or whatever he shot. Yeah, that's unbelievable. Good for him. Saw him get to 11 and then all of a sudden he's at 13 and he was obviously making a nice charge.
"Keeping it interesting. But like I said all week, I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. But if I slip up tomorrow, he's right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun."
Rose has used a tweak in his swing from coach Sean Foley to win the HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open in his last two outings.
"The tweaks that we've made (in 2017) may well take Justin to a level of ball-striking that he hasn't been to yet, and I wasn't sure that was possible," Foley told Golfweek recently.
Rose has made 16 birdies, three bogeys and an eagle in Dubai this week and is trying to win his second career Race to Dubai, all while wrapping up European Tour win No. 12.
"I see myself as a leader, but I see it as a one-shot thing," Rose said. "Is there much point [in] putting too much pressure on yourself when you're one ahead of a tightly-packed leaderboard; it's about playing good golf tomorrow.
"With a one-shot lead, there's no strategy. It's just about playing well tomorrow."
The ways this could play out on Sunday are innumerable. There is actually a scenario in which the Race to Dubai leader coming into this week (Fleetwood) could finish solo third at the season-ending event and lose his grip on the Race to Dubai title and $1.25 million because Rose has been lights out over the last month.
"It's massive. It really is," Fleetwood said of the Race to Dubai (which he's never won). "But above all, whether I win it or not, or whether Justin wins it, one of us will have deserved it. It's been an absolute pleasure trying to win a Race to Dubai, coming down these last few events, and especially this week now. The week could have gone not quite as how you wanted it, not being in contention or anything.
"Nothing closest to the biggest day of my life but in my career, it is. Enjoy these moments. This is what you practice for and this is what you play for. It's brilliant, isn't it. Makes me smile."
Sunday showdown. Can't wait.
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