Thursday 5 December 2019

McIlroy out of Dubai running and without caddie for finale

Tommy Fleetwood celebrates with the trophy after his victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Tommy Fleetwood celebrates with the trophy after his victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Shane Lowry can still win the Race to Dubai but Rory McIlroy is out of the running - and without caddie Harry Diamond - after Bernd Wiesberger tied for third behind Tommy Fleetwood in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Wiesberger extended his lead at the top and mathematically ended McIlroy's hopes of overtaking him this week when he finished four shots outside a play-off that saw Fleetwood deny Sweden's Marcus Kinhult (23) with a par four at the first extra hole.

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The Austrian had a chance to wrap up the Race to Dubai with a win yesterday but while he faltered by dropping three shots in his last four holes at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, only Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Lowry or Matthew Fitzpatrick can deny him now.

Fitzpatrick must win while the other three must finish solo second at worst in this week's season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai to have a chance.

McIlroy could still edge closer to world No 1 Brooks Koepka by winning his fifth title of the season over the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

However, the Holywood star will have Northern Ireland friend Niall O'Connor on his bag as regular caddie Harry Diamond spends time at home with his newborn baby girl, who arrived last week.

Bernd Wiesberger putts on the 14th green during the fourth round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Bernd Wiesberger putts on the 14th green during the fourth round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Fleetwood is now Wiesberger's biggest threat after he made three eagles in a seven-under-par 65 to win after a play-off and move ahead of Rahm and Lowry to second in the Race to Dubai.

The Southport star (28) set the target at 12-under par at the Gary Player Country Club and was joined at the top by Kinhult, who closed with a 68.

The Swede was forced to lay up after a poor drive on their return to the tough 18th for the play-off, however, and Fleetwood got up and down from right of the green for a winning par, holing a five-footer for his first win for 22 months.

Chance

"It feels good, emotional," said Fleetwood who won $2.5 million, the biggest first prize in European Tour history before this week's winner claims $3 million. "It was one of the best (rounds of my career) for sure."

He added: "It's such a great, great thing and a feeling to be playing with a chance to win the Race to Dubai in the last event."

At the Final Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School, Denmark's Benjamin Poke leads by two shots on 12-under par at halfway from the Netherlands' Lars van Meijel at Lumine in Tarragona.

Clandeboye's Jonny Caldwell (35) leads the Irish challenge, tied for 46th on three-under after a level-par 72 on the Hills Course, just three shots outside the top 25 and ties who will be awarded cards after six rounds.

Robin Dawson shot a level-par 72 on the Hills to share 62nd on two-under as Gavin Moynihan's three-over 75 left him joint 82nd on one-under alongside Niall Kearney, who chiselled out a one-under 70 at the Lakes.

Only the top 70 and ties after today's fourth round qualify for the last two rounds and Michael Hoey is ten shots outside the projected two-under cut mark after a one-over 72 on the Lakes yesterday.

At the PGA Tour's weather-delayed Mayakoba Golf Classic, Graeme McDowell closed with rounds of 71 and 67 to finish tied 23rd in the clubhouse on nine-under par

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