Lee Westwood has won a third Race to Dubai title after an extraordinary finish to the European Tour season at the DP World Tour Championship.
Matthew Fitzpatrick won the event on 15 under but Englishman Westwood took the season-long title after Laurie Canter double bogeyed the par-three 17th.
Canter’s error lifted Westwood, 47, into second place on his own.
That was enough to pip Fitzpatrick and Patrick Reed, who led the standings at the start of the week, but ended third.
Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, was trying to become the first American to win the title of Europe’s top golfer. He started the final round in a share of the lead with Fitzpatrick and Canter, knowing a victory would guarantee him the Race to Dubai title.
But although he sensationally holed three chips for birdies – including at the last hole – he also had four bogeys in a scrappy two-under-par final round that saw him finish on 13 under, level with Norway’s Viktor Hovland.
Fitzpatrick needed to win the tournament, played on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, and hope Westwood finished no higher than third and Reed fourth but in the end had to settle for £2.2m and his second DP World Tour Championship title, having also won in 2016.
“It was just a grind. I wanted to win for my family, all the hard work they put in supporting me on and off the course,” said Fitzpatrick, who finished with a four-under-par 68, on Sky Sports.
“It was just trying to make pars, not losing ground. It was a bit up and down on the back nine, but it was just about staying in it and maintaining the lead I built early on.”
The 26-year-old started quickly with four straight birdies to open up a three-shot lead. Reed kept in contention though, chipping in for birdie on the seventh and 15th holes as the Race to Dubai lead fluctuated between the pair, with Westwood never really threatening.
He looked to have completely blown his chances this year when he bogeyed the par-five 14th – however, two birdies in his final three holes saw him sign for a four-under-par 68 and set the clubhouse lead on 14 under.
He still required help from Canter and his unfortunate compatriot fluffed a chip shot on the par-three 17th and walked off with a five, which was enough to propel Westwood up to second on his own.
If Canter had eagled the par-five last, he would have snatched the Race to Dubai title from Westwood and handed it back to Fitzpatrick, but a wayward second shot ended those hopes and he ended up with a par and 12 under total.
It meant Westwood pipped Fitzpatrick to the Harry Vardon Trophy by just 17.8 points to become the oldest winner – Colin Montgomerie was 42 when he won the last of his eight titles in 2005.
“It’s been a bizarre season for so many reasons,” said Westwood, who was first crowned Europe’s top golfer 20 years ago and won his second European money prize in the inaugural Race to Dubai season in 2009.
“The European Tour have done an incredible job to pick the season up again from July and have tournaments on every week.
“It’s been 20 years since I sat there at Valderrama to win the Order of Merit, as it was then. It’s not getting any easier, I am not getting any younger. I had a bit of a back problem and it nearly cost me this week – on Monday I didn’t know if I was going to play.
“I am just enjoying playing golf against these great young players – these kids are so good now. Matt feels like he has been out here for years but is still in his mid-20s and finished like a pro there.”