Westwood crowned European number one, Fitzpatrick wins in Dubai
Westwood won the Harry Vardon Trophy again 20 years after he first lifted it
Twenty years on after he first laid his hands on the Harry Vardon Trophy, the piece of silverware given to the European Tour’s No.1 player, Lee Westwood went on to claim it for a third time in Dubai on Sunday.
The Englishman, who had come into the season-ending DP World Tour Championship with a troubled back, put that behind him to end the tournament in second behind winner Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Westwood, who was fourth on the Race to Dubai going into the final weekend, accumulated 3,128.0 points to claim the European Tour’s top prize ahead of Fitzpatrick. Westwood, a 25-time winner on the European Tour, eight on the all-time list of winners, finished 17.8 points ahead of countryman Fitzpatrick, who logged 3,110.2 points.
Westwood’s previous two Race to Dubai triumphs had come in 2000 and 2009, when the Order of Merit was rechristened Race to Dubai.
At 47 years, seven months and 20 days, he became the oldest Race to Dubai Champion in the history of the European Tour.
Patrick Reed had been bidding to become the first American to land the European Tour crown after being perched on top of the leaderboard, coming into the week. But it was not to be for the Texan as he ended tied third for the tournament to finish in the same position in the Race to Dubai.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood, the 2017 Race to Dubai Champion, was fourth after finishing the tournament in tied 10th with American Collin Morikawa and Andy Sullivan.
“Well, I got my back back to pretty decent, now I've had to lift that massive trophy and strained it again,” Westwood said in jest.
But on a serious note, Westwood, who had won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, revealed he had gone into the week with no expectations and heaped praise on physiotherapists for bringing him back to shape.
“Start of the week, I had no expectations. The two lads in the physio unit, Nigel and Rob, have done an incredible job on me. They have stretched me in places I didn't think I had, and they have given me a massage twice a day. They are really the two ones that kind of kept me going this week. First thing in the morning and after I had played, and I'm very appreciative of the job they have done on my back this week,” said Westwood, who carded a 68 in the final round for a 14-under 274.
And Westwood said all three Order of Merits were different in many aspects.
“They have all been very different. I guess 2000, sort of I was winning a lot, but I was still like up-and-coming. It was only my seventh year on Tour. 2009, I was honing in on the best player in the world spot, and I needed to win here to win The Race to Dubai, and I managed to do that.
And then this one, I'm kind of the more mature player on The European Tour now. It wasn't something I set out to do at the start of the year, but it shows the consistency I've shown,” he said.
For Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, it was his second triumph in the DP World Tour Championship after 2016.
“It’s an amazing day. The start I got off to, four birdies in the first 4-, 5-under through seven, it's a dream start. Fortunately, I managed to pull away from that and really sort of create some distance. It was just obviously a bit of a grind on the back nine. For me, it was just about finishing one hole at a time and just getting through it. So managed to do that and yeah, finished well,” said Fitzpatrick, who shot 68 for a 15-under par 273 at the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates.
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