SUN CITY, South Africa: Current European No. 1 Tommy Fleetwood will be determined to see absent countryman Justin Rose pay a heavy price for a decision not to contest this week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.
Rose is second on the Race to Dubai courtesy of wins in the WGC-HSBC Champions and last week’s Turkish Airlines Open but has chosen not to tee-up in the penultimate event on the European Tour season hosted by nine-time Major winning, Gary Player at Sun City.
Rose’s back-to-back wins saw him cut Fleetwood’s lead cut to just 134,839 points while a Fleetwood victory in South Africa would him move some 1.3m points clear of Rose.
This would add enormous pressure on Rose to capture next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai if he is to deny Fleetwood to the No. 1 European Tour crown.
“As much as I like Justin, I won’t be too disappointed he won’t be playing this week in South Africa,” said Fleetwood.
“Yes, it is a good chance for me and given there is no cut, wherever I finish is going to be a gain but then the goal is to play well and take that form to Dubai.”
While much of the focus is on Fleetwood a second fellow Englishman in Ross Fisher has not ruled himself out of denying both Fleetwood and Rose.
Fisher, 36 is currently sixth on the Race to Dubai and has a mathematical chance of ending the year atop of the rankings thanks most recently to back-to-back second place results.
“I feel like if I can play to the level that I played those two weeks, I’ve got a really good chance in hopefully capping the season off with a win,” said Fisher.
“That was my main objective was to try to go out and win one of these two weeks.
“Tommy might be that little bit too far ahead, but you never know. If I play to the capabilities and what I know I’m capable of playing to, I could quite easily go win, win.”
Seventy-two players will tee-up on the third longest course in European Tour history (7,831 yards) and with the leading 60 on the Race to Dubai at the end of this week’s $7.5m event advancing to the season-ender in Dubai.