Lee Westwood moved to the summit of the Race to Dubai as he captured European Tour silverware for a 25th time after winning the first Rolex Series event of the season, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.
The Englishman, who now has two Rolex Series titles to his name following his victory at the 2018 Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, started the final round with a one-shot lead over Bernd Wiesberger and Francesco Laporta but the pair were unable to keep pace with the 46-year-old.
The victory never looked in doubt with Westwood making the turn in 32 before adding two more birdies on the back nine to sign for a total of 19 under par for a two-stroke triumph over Victor Perez, Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.
“I feel fantastic, ecstatic, elated, and a bit emotional,” said Westwood, who picked up 1165 Race to Dubai points to enter the Rankings in first place. “It’s just great to keep playing well and know that I’m still good enough.
“I was trying not to look at the leaderboard. I peaked at a few on the way around the back nine and I could see that Victor shot nine under and Tommy had also gone nine under and finished on 17 under par. I just tried to make par when I was 19 under. I bogeyed 16, but came back with a nice solid birdie at the last and I hit two good shots on 17 as well. I played some quality golf today. I was happy with the whole week. I've been working hard in the gym. I've had some good time off. I've relaxed, settled my mind and rested that space between the ears.”
Fleetwood and Perez both carded impressive closing rounds of nine under par to put themselves in contention but fell just short while Fitzpatrick’s final round five under par 67 saw him join the pair in second spot. The trio each receive 522.7 points which leaves them tied third in the Race to Dubai.
Louis Oosthuizen followed up his runner-up finish at last week’s South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg with a fifth place at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to remain in sixth in the Rankings. Fellow countryman Shaun Norris finished a shot further back in tied sixth as he soared up to 12th from 99th in the Rankings while England’s Ross Fisher joined the South African to move up to 13th from 123rd.
All eyes now turn to Dubai as the Desert Swing continues at Emirates Golf Club this week.
The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings will contest the season-ending US$8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 19-22, 2020 where US$3 million will be up for grabs for the winner, making it the richest first prize in world tournament golf.