Lee Westwood hailed his triumph at the Dubai World Championship presented by: DP World after a nerveless final round 64 secured a six shot victory and with it The Race to Dubai title for 2009.
Westwood, who led by two overnight, fired one of the finest rounds of his career to take the €830,675 first prize at the Earth course that also secured his status as European Number One for the second time in his career.
The 36 year old, who wins The Race to Dubai having earned €3,240,951 in 26 events this season as well as the $1.5million awarded for finishing top this weekend, becomes the eighth Englishman to have won the Harry Vardon Trophy on two occasions or more and the 18th player overall.
His remarkable final round meant he ended on 23 under par, six shots ahead of Ross McGowan and with total earnings this season of €4,237,762.
It makes him just the fourth golfer in European Tour history to finish European Number One having also won the final event of the season after Ronan Rafferty (1989), Colin Montgomerie (1993) and Justin Rose (2007)
As well as being his 31st victory worldwide as a professional and his second victory on The European Tour this season, the win moves Westwood up to World Number Four in the Official World Golf Rankings, matching his highest career position.
Westwood’s win also makes him one of four players to have passed the €20 million mark in European Tour Official Career Earnings and is the second time he has landed over €3million in prize money in a single season.
To cap it all, his closing 64 was also a new course record on the Greg Norman-designed venue.
"That’s about as good as I’ve ever played, I’m speechless really,” he said.
“I played great all week. A 66 and 64 over the weekend will take some beating I think. It means so much to me, without doubt this is the highest point.
“Obviously I had a high point in 2000 [his first Order of Merit victory] but back then I was young and didn’t really know what it was all about, I’d just really experienced the highs.
“I went through a bit of a low which was well documented and didn’t play so well, dropping out of the top 250 in the world rankings and it’s been a long way back.
“I'm much more mature now and I've got a more rounded game. There's less flaws, there's less weaknesses. I've been through a lot.
“I’m delighted to be stood here and it’s got to be the best day of my golfing career. I think that's about as good as I've ever played under this pressure.
“I was surprised how calm I was today. I was very confident in what I was doing and I expected to play well.
“Hopefully there will be more, maybe a Major in the future. Some of the young players coming through, like Rory McIlroy, put me under a lot of pressure so it will be tough. I’m going to enjoy the rest of 2009.”
Westwood also praised the venue in Dubai, adding: “It's a fantastic tournament, the best ever. Seriously, if you ever wanted a tournament to burst on to the scene, that's probably as good as it gets.
“I think Dubai and the golf course and The European Tour have come out of it looking fantastic. I think it's a great effort for golf in this region and it's a great advert for golf on The European Tour. It shows the quality of the players that we have on this tour.”
McGowan carded a final round 68, including five straight birdies from the 12th, to hold on to second place on 17 under par after a sustained charge from McIlroy, who fired five birdies on his back nine before bogeying the par five 18th to sign for a 67 and with it third place place on 15 under par as well as second in The Race to Dubai.
"I have no complaints. I gave it my best shot and it's been a great season, but Lee is just in a different class," said McIlroy, who gains a place in the top ten of the Official World Golf Rankings despite finishing runner up in The Race to Dubai with total earnings of €3,610,020.
"Most times coming here leading and then finishing third would be good enough [to win The Race to Dubai], but even if I'd played well I'm not sure I could have got to 23 under.
“Lee's been through the highs and lows of this game and he's back. He's played fantastically well for two years and I suppose this is his reward for persevering."
Further down the leaderboard and taking a $600,000 share of the $15million bonus pool were Geoff Ogilvy and Padraig Harrington.
The pair finished on 14 under par while Alexander Noren ended in sixth a shot further behind.