Danny Willett sealed his first title since winning the 2016 Masters Tournament after lifting the season-ending DP World Tour Championship with a superb 72 hole score of 18 under par 270 while Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to be crowned the European Tour’s Race to Dubai champion after accumulating 6,041,521 points for the season.
The Englishman, who claimed his second win in the emirate after the 2016 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, started the final round in scintillating style with a sublime eagle on the second before adding a birdie on the eighth to make the turn in 33. The 31 year old looked to have squandered his chances of picking up a first Rolex Series title after dropping two shots on the opening three holes of the back nine to give the chasing pack hope but bounced back in style with three birdies in his last six holes to claim a two-stroke win over Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” said an emotional Willett. “It’s been tough. I’m just massively proud of myself and everyone that’s been around me.
“You never quite know when a win is around the corner and with all the things that have happened, I was never quite sure if it was going to happen again.
“To happen here at the end of year, we’ve battled long and hard through this season to come out at the end, regardless of what happened today, a better person and a better athlete. It’s a special place. It’s been a hell of a lot of work and it’s just nice to be back.”
Wallace’s second place finish sees him jump up nine places to tenth in the Race to Dubai Rankings with a season tally of 2,887,527 points which includes a share of the Race to Dubai Bonus Pool, which is only open to the top ten players in the Rankings. American Reed moves up one place to third and ends the season on 4,713,351 points.
Meanwhile, Molinari, who won the Rolex Series’ BMW PGA Championship earlier this season as well as a maiden Major at the 147th Open Championship, finished tied for 26th at the tenth edition of the tournament which was enough to seal the Race to Dubai crown after Ryder Cup team mate Tommy Fleetwood failed to win.
“It’s incredible to get my hands on the trophy,” said the 36 year old. “Now I’m going to have time to sit down and relax and really think back about the last few months. This morning on the first tee, you know, the announcement is the winner of The Open Championship, Race to Dubai leader, doesn’t sound real at the moment.
“I’m really struggling for words. It’s more than I ever dreamed of achieving. I’ve seen guys that I think are better players than me not winning Majors and not winning Order of Merits or the Race to Dubai. To achieve those things, you know, in one single season, is just incredible.”
DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said: “Congratulations to Danny for his first DP World Tour Championship title and Francesco for winning the Race to Dubai. We have had another fantastic week of world class golf on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates and I would
therefore like to thank the European Tour, the players, volunteers, our partners and of course the golf fans here and around the world. The DP World Tour Championship continues to put Dubai on the map for sport as well as to inspire the next generation of young Emiratis to take up the game- something we are extremely proud of. This continues to be a really important and successful partnership for us and therefore I am delighted that from next year DP World will expand our partnership to become a full European Tour Partner.”
The 2017 DP World Tour Championship winner, Jon Rahm, finished four shots off the pace to finish tied fourth with fellow Spaniard and Dubai resident Adrian Otaegui and South African Dean Burmester.