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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Tommy Fleetwood’s down-to-earth honesty might be why he’s the sentimental favorite to end 2017 as European No. 1 over Justin Rose.
The 26-year-old Englishman leads Rose by 256,737 points heading into the $8 million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, the last event on the 2016-17 European Tour schedule. All Fleetwood has to do to win the Race to Dubai is finish ahead of Rose, and hope Sergio Garcia doesn’t go ballistic.
“I’m not going to lie – I would prefer him not to do well,” Fleetwood said. “Have a decent week, but not an amazing week.”
Rose has turned the season finale into a tense finish by winning his last two events, the WGC–HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. Those wins took him to No. 2 on the money list and past Sergio Garcia, who, strangely, sat out the last three tournaments. Garcia can still finish No. 1 if he wins this week and Fleetwood finishes 13th or worse, and Rose is outside the top 3.
Fleetwood, a two-time winner this season, will monitor Rose’s progress since he plays with the Olympic champion in the opening round. Garcia plays in the group in front along with European No. 4 Jon Rahm.
“I would be a liar if I said I’m not going to watch him (Rose),” Fleetwood said. “There’s no avoiding it. … I’m turning up tomorrow, final event of the year and I’m playing with Justin Rose trying to win the Race to Dubai. Sergio could win it as well. Sergio, Justin Rose and then me. That’s pretty cool.”
Rose can be European No. 1 for a second time if he wins.
“To win the Race to Dubai, I have to contend in this tournament one way or another,” said Rose, who was European No. 1 in 2007. “If you’re going to finish at the top end of the leaderboard, you may as well focus on trying to win the tournament.”
Both Rose and Fleetwood would be worthy of Europe’s No. 1 title, but Fleetwood by far is the sentimental favorite.