Rory McIlroy wins his fifth Race to Dubai
Birdie blitz sees Dane to the title
Aberg smashes records as he gets off the mark
The Race to Dubai had already been wrapped up by Rory McIlroy before this week's DP World Tour Championship began which may have gone some way to explaining his poor performance, but it didn't detract from what transpired to be a thrilling event.
Having been tied for the lead after round one of the DP World Tour Championship, and having been two strokes clear at halfway, pre-event 34.033/1 chance, Nicolai Hojgaard, finished his third round tardily, bogeying the last two holes, and that saw him enter the fourth and final round trailing Matt Wallace by three and trading at 16/117.00.
Wallace had moved to the front with a ridiculous finish to round three which saw him birdie every hole on the back-nine to post a 12-under-par 60 but he never really get going on Sunday and it looked for much of the day as though either Tommy Fleetwood or Viktor Hovland would take the title.
With a birdie at the first and an eagle at the second, Fleetwood couldn't have started any better, but instead of kicking on, he bogeyed the par three fourth and parred the next five as Hovland eased to the front.
The Norwegian was matched at a low 1.865/6 when he birdied the eighth hole to take the lead but he couldn't buy a putt after that.
The world number four missed a six-footer for par at nine as well as birdie putts from seven and six feet at 11 and 13 as Fleetwood rallied with birdies at 10 and 11 to lead by two.
The popular Englishman, who had begun the event trading at 20.019/1 hit a low of 1.341/3 but a missed birdie putt at 13 from just six feet disrupted his momentum, just as Hojgaard began his birdie blitz to hit the front.
Nicolai, who had drifted out to 70.069/1 on Thursday morning after he'd played his first six holes in one-over-par, looked like he might be out of it when he dropped a shot at the tough par four 12th but that was the turning point.
The classy young Dane birdied 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 to assume command and although he thought it might prove pivotal, his missed birdie at the 18th from inside four feet mattered not a jot. As it transpired, he still won by two.
Fleetwood didn't do an awful lot wrong but a poor second shot on the par five 14th cost him a chance of a birdie there and a bogey at the 17th left him with just too much to do.
Needing eagles to tie at the par five finishing hole, after a fine drive, Hovland's aggressive approach found the water, and Fleetwood was always up against it after he'd driven into the rough. Both men made par fives to finish second alongside Wallace who rallied late on with three birdies in the last five holes.
Strong trends reaffirmed
Hojgaard ranked first for Driving Distance, and it was apparent on the back nine on Sunday that his extra length off the tee was a huge asset.
Wayne Riley heaped praise on Fleetwood for laying up on the short par four 15th and to his credit, he did knock the birdie putt in from 16 feet, but Hojgaard drove his ball to the right of the green to within 53 yards of the pin, opening up the hole perfectly, to make his three and his prestigious length helped on the par five 14th and the tough par four 16th.
Although Wallace moved from tied 21st to first with his heroic charge on Saturday, yet again, the winner was up with the pace throughout and after 15 renewals, we're still yet to see a winner begin the final round outside the top five places.
A couple of outsiders dipped in and out throughout the week, but the cream rose to the top at the end, as it invariably does at this event, and backing big outsiders here appears to be an exercise in futility.
Sensational Swede gets off the mark
Over on the PGA Tour, the pre-event 14.013/1 favourite, Ludvig Aberg, led the RSM Classic by a stroke with a round to go and he soon put the event to bed with birdies at one, four, five and six.
The 2016 winner, Mackenzie Hughes, valiantly clung to the impressive Swede's coattails but he could never get any closer than within two strokes and Aberg ended the event four clear of the Canadian and seven ahead of the rest as he posted a second successive nine-under-par 61.
Aberg's 29-under-par 253 total beat the previous tournament record by seven strokes and it also tied the lowest 72-hole total in PGA Tour history, matching the winning score of Justin Thomas at the 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii.
His 18-under-par weekend score set the record for the lowest score over a PGA Tour tournament's final two rounds and his final 54 holes also set a PGA Tour record for lowest score over three consecutive rounds.
It was an incredibly impressive way to win your first PGA Tour title, although the conditions were very kind after the rain on Thursday.
With the course softened and the wind down, the Seaside Course was rendered completely defenceless but that doesn't detract from Aberg's achievement.
The 24-year-old knew he had to remain aggressive and make the birdies. He delivered in style and the stats show just how utterly dominant he was.
The PGA Tour takes a week off this week as the golf world prepares for the return of Tiger Woods at next week's Hero World Challenge but there's no let up on the DP World Tour where the brand-new season kicks off on Thursday with the Australian PGA Championship and the Joburg Open.
I'll be back later today with a preview of the South African event.
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