Tommy Fleetwood declared himself “privileged and ready” to challenge for another Race to Dubai title following his dramatic play-off win in the penultimate event of the season.
Fleetwood emerged as an unlikely winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge after he came from six shots behind overnight to surge into the clubhouse lead with a final-round 65 before he pulled off a sublime par-save at the first extra hole to pip Marcus Kinhult in a play-off.
The Englishman’s first victory for 22 months propelled him into second place in the Race to Dubai standings, just over 800 points behind leader Bernd Wiesberger ahead of next week’s season finale at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Fleetwood narrowly held off Justin Rose to be crowned European No 1 two years ago, and the 28-year-old is looking to double-up on his Vardon Trophy collection with another big performance at the Jumeirah Golf Estates, the final event of the European Tour season starting on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Golf.
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“It’s an absolute privilege to get to the last event with a chance of winning The Race to Dubai,” said Fleetwood, whose dramatic win at the Gary Player Country Club was his fifth Tour win, and his first since he landed his first Rolex Series title in Abu Dhabi last January.
“It’s an amazing thing to have in your career and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of. It’s ages away now. We’ve got this to deal with first, and I’ll start thinking about next week later, but all the same things apply.
“The closer it gets to the end of the season, the harder it is to stay in the present, do your things and concentrate on what you do best. But I’m happy for the challenge, I feel like I’m very ready. I might go out next week and play terrible, but that’s golf and it’s experience that will live with me forever.”
Fleetwood admitted he did not fancy his chance of ending his winless run after a disappointing third-round 73 left him six shots off the pace overnight, but he was delighted with his performance under pressure down the stretch in Sun City having surged into contention with back-to-back eagles around the turn and another at the long 14th.
Fleetwood wins Nedbank thriller
Tommy Fleetwood carded three eagles in his final-round 65 and went on to beat Marcus Kinhult in a play-off
“Winning honestly wasn’t on the agenda at the start of the day,” he added. “It was just about putting a good round together and moving on to next week.
“It feels good, emotional too! It has been a long time coming, and I’m not one to complain, but I really did want to win something. Winning is just such a good feeling. Everybody puts a lot of hard work in week-in, week-out, and you wait for your time to come.