By Richard Williamson
TOMMY Fleetwood admitted the 22-month wait to add to his list of European Tour wins was testing his patience.
But after a thrilling play-off win over Marcus Kinhult at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, the Southport golfer immediately set his sights on topping the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex for the second time in three years.
The $2.5million (£1.94m) first prize is the Tour’s biggest and catapults Fleetwood into contention in second place overall.
The 29-year-old reflected on a win which saw him start the final round six shots adrift of the leaders.
“It feels good, emotional. It has been a long time coming, and I’m not one to complain, but I really did want to win something.
“Winning is just such a good feeling. You know everybody puts a lot of hard work in week-in, week-out and you wait for your time to come. Probably impatient most of the time. But I feel happy and lucky that it’s been my time this week.”
The Ryder Cup star, who won his first Rolex Series tournament at the 2017 Open de France, flew up the leaderboard after three birdies and the first of an incredible three eagles before the turn. He then eagled the tenth and the 14th, recovering from dropped shots on the 12th and 13th holes. A final birdie of the day on the 15th saw him sign for a 65 and 12 under par total.
Sweden’s Kinhult started three strokes behind overnight leader Zander Lombard and made a crucial birdie on the 15th to join Fleetwood on 12 under.
On the first extra hole, Kinhult had to play out sideways after a poor tee shot, eventually settling for bogey, while Fleetwood made an excellent up and down to save par and tapped in from three feet for his fifth title.
He said: “It was one of the best (rounds of my career) for sure. I would have liked to keep a couple bogeys off the card, but like the way I played, the way I hit it, felt like the way I putted, the way I handled myself emotionally, staying in the present. And then the playoff, bit of luck with the tee shot, chip shot probably a bit lucky and holed the putt, but it all goes together with just such an amazing day.”
The win moves the Merseysider onto the shoulder of rankings leader Bernd Wiesberger, of Austria, who finished in a share of third place.
Fleetwood added: “It’s such a great feeling to be playing with a chance to win The Race to Dubai in the last event. Everybody starts the Tour at the start of the season to get there, and be one of the guys that can actually finish at the top is very special.”
Bromborough’s Paul Waring finished in a share of 24th.