Tommy Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai lead after HNA Open De France win

Tommy Fleetwood put himself out in front in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai after firing a final round 66 to win the HNA Open de France by a shot from Peter Uihlein of the USA claiming a staggering 1,040,824 points in the second Rolex Series event of the season points to up his season tally to 3,521,078 and open up a gap 819,449 over Masters Tournament winner Sergio Garcia.

The down to earth Englishman has been in stellar form this season, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January and following up with a share of second place at the big-money WGC-Mexico Championship and a top five US Open in addition to a runner-up spot at the Shenzhen International, a share of third place at the UBS Hong Kong Open and a top ten finish at last week’s BMW International Open.

Such consistency from the 2011 Challenge Tour graduate has put him in pole position in the battle to be crowned Race to Dubai champion at the prestigious season ending DP World Tour Championship, taking place for the ninth time at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 16-19.

“With the start I had this year, it’s very easy to look at the Race to Dubai and want to look towards the end of the year,” said Fleetwood. “Winning the Race to Dubai, it’s going to be tough. I was a long way ahead and then Sergio won the Masters. You can’t control what other people do. With how strong the Tour is, there’s no reason why people can’t win Majors. It might be me; it might be someone else.

“It’s great to be leading t­­he Race to Dubai. It is something that I’ll look at now and no matter what happens, come the last event, I’m going to have a chance of topping the rankings. It’s, again, something new, something I’ve never done, but something very exciting. Not a lot of people get to do it and not a lot of people win, and it’s a very sort of exclusive club of players that have won the Race to Dubai.

“To be part of it would be very special and hopefully my form continues and at the end of the year I have a chance.”

Fleetwood began the final day a shot off the lead but he moved into top spot with a fabulous two at the second hole. Both Uihlein and Sweden’s Alexander Bjork threatened Fleetwood’s lead but the Southport man held firm to retain the top spot.

Fleetwood turned in 33 with a one-shot advantage and extended his lead to three through 13 holes. Uihlein reduced the deficit on the run for home however and had a chance to tie Fleetwood at the top by the time he came to the final hole. He was unable to get the birdie he needed though and Fleetwood had the victory.

Uihlein finished alone in second with Mike Lorenzo-Vera of France, Alexander Bjork of Sweden and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark tied for third.

Uihlein gained 693,880 points and jumped 34 positions in the Race to Dubai rankings, moving from 42nd to eighth to book his place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Bjork, Olesen, and Lorenzo-Vera each won 322,657 points with Bjork progressing from 49th to 22nd, Olesen moving from 64th to 25th and Lorenzo-Vera advancing from 52nd to 24th.

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox finished in sixth place and gained 218,574 points to make a significant jump from 102nd to 49th in the rankings and he will be eager to maintain some momentum with some big events on the horizon in order to remain in the Race to Dubai’s top 60 and secure a debut DP World Tour Championship berth.

Spain’s Adrian Otaegui, England’s Ross Fisher and China’s Haotong Li shared seventh place with each of them gaining 161,121 points. Otaegui moved from 182nd to 82nd, Fisher continued his strong season by progressing from seventh to fifth while Li advanced from 48th to 33rd.

Tenth place was shared by Sweden’s Alex Noren, Spain’s Jon Rahm and England’s Lee Westwood, each of them gaining 115,740 points. Noren solidified his position in the Race to Dubai at fourth, Rahm remained in third place and Westwood moved from 22nd to 19th.

Thomas Pieters of Belgium, England’s Andy Sullivan and Paul Dunne of Ireland tied in 13th to take 95,965 points each. Pieters strengthened his place in the Race to Dubai’s top ten, Andy Sullivan broke into the top 60, moving from 61st to 48th while Dunne moved from 29th to 27th.

The HNA Open de France is the second of eight in the European Tour’s new Rolex Series which will continue, along with the Open Qualifying Series at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart in Northern Ireland.