DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Another year without a major was no less special for Rory McIlroy, who finished Sunday as Europe’s leading golfer for the fourth time and became only the second player to win season titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour.
John Ram felt the same way.
Ram opened with three consecutive birdies en route to a 5-under 67 to win his third DP World Championship, with two shots over England’s Terrell Hatton and Sweden’s Alex Noreen.
“I hope people stop telling me it’s been a bad year,” Ram said. “Three wins all over the world, three wins on three different continents. Yeah, it wasn’t a big tournament, but it’s still a really good season.”
Ram also won the PGA Tour’s Mexico Open and the Spanish Open to go along with the European Tour’s season finale that came with a $3 million prize pool.
He finished 20-under at 268 at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
It’s now been eight years since McIlroy last majored—he finished in the top eight in all four majors this year—but he’s won the FedEx Cup and its $18 million bonus, along with the Canadian Open and the CJ Cup in South Carolina.
Along the way, he returned to No. 1 in the world.
“I think my goal was just to become a fuller golfer and I feel like I’m on a journey to do that,” said McIlroy. “I’m as complete a golfer as I’ll ever be, and I hope I can continue on that path.”
McElroy’s main challenge in the DP World rankings came from Matt Fitzpatrick, whose bid to win the Harry Vardon Trophy exploded at the turn.
The US Open champion needed to win and McIlroy not finish runner-up, or finish second and the Northern Irishman to be outside the top seven. Neither scenario happened as Fitzpatrick, who had fallen three shorts for the lead, took a double bogey at eighth and then threw another putt at tenth to finish his chances.
McIlroy didn’t need any of the fireworks the day before, when he pushed himself into contention with a 65. He could have tied the Ram with an eagle on the par-5 18 but had to settle for par and a 68.
“It means a lot. It’s been seven years since I last did it,” McElroy, who won the FedEx Cup in August, told Sky Sports.
“It was nice to get one win there at the end of the year, but John played a great tournament and totally deserved it.”
Henrik Stenson in 2013 is the only other player to win the FedEx Cup and the European points list in the same year.
Ram, who became the first player to win the tournament three times, started the final day with a one-shot lead and quickly doubled his advantage.
Fitzpatrick’s 28-foot birdie in the third brought him to 15 under and within two, but things began to unravel with a bogey at the short sixth, and although he promptly recovered that putt, a disastrous eighth eventually did for his hopes.
His drive landed a deep hole in a wasteland, his next putt failed to clear the rough and after the green flew he raised his par and put two out from the margin for 6. Putting him five behind and after missing Fairway in the tenth which led to a bogey, the challenge was over.
The only problem McIlroy, who had three birdies and a bogey on his first four holes, in the eighth came from the mast that kept his 56-foot effort out. He put three putts on the ninth green but wasn’t the only one as Hutton did the same for his only bogey of a round 66.
Noren closed out with a score of 67, and a tie for second should move him outside the top 40, likely to secure a spot in the top 50 by the end of the year for the Masters Invitational.
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