Dubai: Jon Rahm ended a sublime rookie year by winning the DP World Tour Championship at 19-under par, one stroke clear of Shane Lowry and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Spaniard had only just been presented with the European Tour’s Rookie of the Year Award on Tuesday after three top finishes, including one win from 12 appearances this season.
The world No. 4, up from fifth with this victory, has now made it two wins from 13 events in his first year, and it’s a Dubai double of sorts with his earlier win being the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish Open in July, which like the DP World Tour Championship, is also a premium Rolex Series event.
Rahm, who was the highest ranked player in the field this week, started the day on 14-under, one stroke behind overnight leader and Race to Dubai challenger Justin Rose on Sunday.
Rose had got up to 19-under by the seventh hole with four birdies, while Rahm, who birdied three, seven and 10 was at 17-under just after the turn.
Rose then bogeyed three on his return to fall below a pack of four sharing the lead at 18-under, which included Rahm after he birdied 14.
Rahm then pulled ahead for the victory with another birdie on 16 to card 67, after earlier rounds of 69, 68 and 65.
“What I’ve done this year, especially on the European Tour from not being a member to becoming Rookie of the Year, and a Rolex Series champion and now twice Rolex Series champion and winner of the DP World Tour Championship, is unbelievable,” he said.
“I’m extremely honoured and humbled to join the list of winners of this event: Lee Westwood, Robert Karlsson, Alvaro Quiros, Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, I mean they are all great players. Some of them are European Tour legends. It’s just great to join that and get my chance to put my name on that great trophy. It’s a great feeling.”
Of the run-in with the likes of Lowry, Dylan Fritelli and Dean Burmester, also in with a shot of the title before Rahm birdied 16, he said: “I saw Rosey had bogeyed something, I don’t know what hole but I was tied for the lead.
“So, I went from struggling to being tied for the lead. I was like four holes to go, birdie opportunities, let’s see if we can get a couple.
“I never got ahead of myself. Kept my composure and kept playing and hoped to have a birdie opportunity, which I did on 16 and I knew that was going to take care of the rest.”
Rahm added that the victory would do wonders for his confidence heading into next season. “To get it done on the last week, I don’t know if it shows to anyone else or not, but it does prove to myself that I belong to be here.
“It’s a great week for me mentally and it reinforces my position to maybe be considered for the Ryder Cup next year.
“Hopefully, I can keep playing like this and win again next year and maybe come into this tournament with a chance of winning the Race to Dubai. It didn’t feel good coming here without a mathematical chance of winning it. So, hopefully I can play better and have a chance next year.”