The DP World Tour’s 2022 season drew to a close in dramatic fashion as Jon Rahm, the third round leader of the season-ending Tour Championship, held off Ryder Cup team-mates Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren and Rory McIlroy to win by two shots.
The Spaniard went into the final round with a narrow one-stroke lead, but reeled off three opening birdies to stretch that advantage before bouncing back from a bogey on the fourth with three more gains to sign for a closing 67 and finish the tournament on 20 under par.
Rahm’s victory continues his love affair with Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course, where he now has three wins and another top-five finish in four visits. He also adds a fifth Rolex Series title to his collection, becoming the first person to achieve the feat.
Rahm never relinquished the lead on day four, but did not look totally comfortable at times, as a series of missed fairways gave hope to his challengers who were queuing up behind him. He took a two-shot lead to the last but an errant tee-shot landed him in tree trouble and he only just cleared the penalty area with his second shot. But his gamble paid off as he two-putted for par on the 18th green to storm to victory.
Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren finished in a tie for second on 18 under, with McIlroy two shots further back in fourth. Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick were in a share of fifth place on 13 under, with the latter shooting a disappointing closing 73 to end his chances of finishing no.1 in Europe.
Rahm said: “Because of COVID I never got a chance to defend my 2019 title and even though I decided not to come last year, I came with the mentality that, well, nobody beat me in the last two years, so they are going to have to beat me again. I came in with that confidence; a lot of similarities to the past. Last time I won here I started the final round at 15-under. I had a heck of a front nine and shot 20-under to win it. I like this course and this course likes me. I hope this is third of many more. Hopefully people can stop telling me that it was a bad year. Three wins worldwide, three wins in three different continents, yeah, it wasn’t a major championship, but it’s still a really, really good season.”
McIlroy won the other prize on offer this week, topping the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex to win the Harry Vardon Trophy for the fourth time. The Northern Irishman capped a hugely successful year by becoming the European no.1, world no.1 and FedExCup champion at the same time for the first time in his career.
McIlroy said: “It means a lot. It’s been seven years since I’ve last done it. Obviously this is my fourth one but it’s been a while. I’ve won three FedEx Cups since the last time I won, which was The Race to Dubai back then. I was a model of consistency the whole way through the year. A lot of top finishes. I think my worst finish of the DP World Tour events I played this year was 12th at the start of the year in Abu Dhabi. A really consistent season, putting in good performances. It would have been nice to get one win in there at the end of the year here, but Jon obviously played an incredible tournament and fully deserved it. I’m really proud of my year, and excited for 2023.
He added: “One of the things I’m really proud of over the last few years is I don’t feel I have to rely on one aspect of my game. I think if my driving isn’t there, then my putter bails me out. If my putter isn’t there, my iron play bails me out. I feel like when you get to this level, it’s like, okay, how can you make those incremental improvements to get better, and I think my goal has been to just become a more complete golfer and I feel like I’m on the journey to doing that. I’m as complete a golfer as I feel like I’ve ever been, and hopefully I can continue on that path.”