UAE resident Romain Wattel climbs up Race to Dubai rankings with thrilling maiden triumph at KLM Open

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Wattel is now in a prime position to qualify for Dubai.

Romain Wattel is one step closer to securing his place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, after winning his maiden European Tour event at the KLM Open.

The 26-year-old Frenchman, who is a Dubai resident and practices at Jumeirah Golf Estates European Tour Performance Institute, finished a shot ahead of Canada’s Austin Connelly on a lively final day at The Dutch in Spijk to claim 300,000 points and jump from 130th to 55th spot in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings. The win comes on the back of 25 top-ten finishes in his previous 186 events.

The result sees Wattel’s season tally swell to 483,348 points, placing him in prime position to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 16-19.

Nick Tarratt, Director of the European Tour International Dubai office, said: “We congratulate Romain on entering the winner’s circle on the European Tour for the very first time, continuing a fantastic run of Dubai based winners this season which has also included Alvaro Quiros and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

“With the Ryder Cup being played in France next year, it would be fantastic to see a Frenchman make it in to the European team. We wish Romain all the best in his quest to qualify for the season finale in November and for The Ryder Cup next year.”

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Wattel hits off the tee in tough conditions.

Wattel came in to the final round of the KLM Open one shot behind Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat. However, a fiery start from the Frenchman which included three birdies in his first six holes saw him take the lead.

Once in front, he stayed in control for the majority of the final round and managed to survive a late scare when he missed the green with his approach to the last. However, a delightful up-and-down on the 72nd hole saw him sign for a closing round of 69 to end on 15 under par, one ahead of Connelly.

“I am happy with the way I played all week,” said Wattel, who has not finished higher than 24th in the Race to Dubai rankings. “It’s been a very nice weekend. I’ve been putting really bad the last two years – I think I’m a really good putter but the last two years were tough for me.

“I have been in contention before and while I had not won before I knew what I had to do; I knew what I had to expect and thankfully this time it was my week. It feels amazing to win for the first time – I am so happy right now.”

Connelly’s lone runner-up finish at the KLM Open earned him a healthy tally of 200,000 points. He now leapfrogs from 123rd to 71st place in the Race to Dubai rankings with a season tally of 407,890 points. The 20-year-old Canadian, who impressed at this year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, is now only a few good finishes away from securing his place in November’s season finale.

Meanwhile George Coetzee and Eddie Pepperell picked up a much-needed 73,500 points each as they finished tied for third place with Wattel’s fellow Dubai resident Sebastian Heisele, Lee Westwood, Justin Walters and Joel Salter to put themselves in a better position to break into the top 60 in the Race to Dubai Rankings. Coetzee now moves to 64th while Pepperell is in 75th spot.

Westwood, improved his rankings position one place from 26th to 25th, Heisel moves from 162nd to 131st, Walters from 146th to 122nd and Salter from 157th to 129th.

There was also movement on top of the Race to Dubai as Bernd Wiesberger’s top ten finish in the Netherlands saw him surpass Rory McIlroy for ninth spot in the rankings. The Austrian collected 33,876 points at the KLM Open to take his season tally to 1,475,239.

However, Englishman Tommy Fleetwood still remains at the head of the rankings with 3,771,122 points, whilst Spaniard Sergio Garcia is in second with a season-tally of 2,799,255 points and his young compatriot Jon Rahm sits in third spot on 2,761,857.

TOP 10 RACE TO DUBAI RANKINGS AFTER KLM OPEN

POSITION NAME COUNTRY     POINTS
1 Tommy FLEETWOOD (ENG) 3,771,122
2 Sergio GARCIA (ESP) 2,799,255
3 Jon RAHM (ESP) 2,761,857
4 Rafa CABRERA BELLO (ESP) 2,124,686
5 Alex NOREN (SWE) 1,905,031
6 Francesco MOLINARI (ITA) 1,669,920
7 Justin ROSE (ENG) 1,593,949
8 Ross FISHER (ENG) 1,485,262
9 Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) 1,475,239
10 Rory MCILROY (NIR) 1,447,358

Click here for the full 2017 Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.

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South Africa star Haydn Porteous takes giant step towards securing DP World Tour Championship qualification

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Finding form: Porteous.

Haydn Porteous took a giant step forward to securing his place in the season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, with his second European Tour victory at the D+D REAL Czech Masters.

The 23-year-old South African finished two shots ahead of England’s Lee Slattery after a thrilling final day at the Albatross Golf Resort to claim 166,660 points and jump from 105th to 61st spot in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings.

The win marks Porteous’s first win on Tour since his maiden triumph last season at the Joburg Open.

The result sees his season tally swell to 425,551 points, placing him in prime position to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship, taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 16-19.

“To get my second European Tour win under the belt just feels amazing,” said Porteous, who brought his good form to the Czech Republic after securing his first top ten finish of the season last week at the Made In Denmark.

“To start to feel as if I belong, it’s a big step in the right direction and I need to just carry on doing what I’m doing.

“I’m trying to get myself within the top 60 to get into the DP World Tour Championship and move up the Race to Dubai rankings. I’ll be working as hard as I can to get into the last stretch of big tournaments.Hopefully I can do that – I just have to take it one tournament at a time.”

Porteous came in to the final round of the D+D REAL Czech Masters two shots adrift of overnight leader Slattery but erased the deficit in a hurry as he birdied his first two holes of the day.

In the end, the man from Johannesburg carded half a dozen birdies during his final round as he signed for a closing 69 to get to 13 under par and prevail over Slattery by two shots.

Slattery’s runner-up finish at the D+D REAL Czech Masters earned him a healthy tally of 111,110 points. He now leapfrogs from 107th to 74th place in the Race to Dubai Rankings with a season total of 425,551 points. The Englishman is now only a few good finishes away from securing his place in November’s season finale.

Meanwhile Tom Lewis and Pontus Widegren picked up a much-needed 56,300 points each as they finished tied for third place to put themselves in a position to attempt a late charge up the Race to Dubai rankings. Lewis moves to 130th while Widegren is now in 156th spot.

Another man who improved his chances of qualifying for the season finale at Jumeirah Golf Estates was England’s James Morrison. He jumped from 94th to 87th in the Race to Dubai rankings after finishing tied for fifth in the Czech Republic.

Eddie Pepperell also made strides up the Race to Dubai rankings with his tied fifth place finish. He’s now in 89th place after picking up 33,100 points to take his season tally to 313,578.

Both Pepperell and Morrison will be aiming for a strong finish to the season in order to book their tickets to Dubai in November.

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood remains at the head of the rankings with 3,771,122 points, whilst Spaniard Sergio Garcia is in second with a season-tally of 2,799,255 points and his young compatriot Jon Rahm sits in third spot on 2,761,857.

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Stenson reflects on 'career-best' year after Race to Dubai victory

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Top of the world: Henrik Stenson.

There were several permutations involved with the Race to Dubai at the start of the week, but Henrik Stenson ensured it was a straightforward conclusion, shooting a superb seven-under par 65 that helped him stay ahead of all his rivals and become European No. 1 for the second time.

The 40-year-old Swede, a Dubai resident for nearly a decade before moving to Florida, achieved the best-case scenario – he beat his three rivals who could have denied him the title by finishing tied ninth at 12-under par.

No. 2 Danny Willett was way behind, tied 50th at one-under par, while No. 3 Alex Noren could do no better than tied 23rd place at eightunder par. Rory McIlroy, who needed to win the tournament to have a chance, finished alongside Stenson.

The reigning Open champion said: “I’m very pleased to get my name on this trophy once again. It’s been a great year, the best year of my career. I’ve always thought it was going to be hard to top 2013, but I think I’ve done that this year.

“Maybe not to the level of golf over six months, but certainly with the highlights of winning The Open, the silver in Olympics and The Race to Dubai again. So it’s been a great year and it feels lovely to finish in this way.”

Stenson was also delighted with the way he ended his season – a 65 that contained eight birdies.

“Yeah, if you’re going to be Europe’s No. 1, you don’t want to finish with a 75, even if you can afford it,” quipped Stenson. “It was nice to play some good golf finally and to shoot a good number on a Sunday. That never hurts.

“It was a solid round of golf today, and just sneaked me into the top-10. Top-10s are always fine.”

Even though he was looking forward to a long family holiday, Stenson insisted he was not going to sit on his laurels.

“Golf is a game where you’re never finished. You can always keep improving. I’m no different. Given the competition that comes up every year, it gets harder every time. You’ve always got to keep on trying to become a better player and keep on moving forward. Otherwise you’re going to get run over and run past,” he added.

“There are areas I can improve for sure, but at the same time, I know that if I get my game in good shape and if every department is working, then I know I’ve got enough game to compete with the best and to beat the best.

“I hit some lovely wedge shots today, but that’s certainly one area where I feel like I can improve I think between 90 and 120 yards, there’s definitely room for improvement there.”

Having won the Race to Dubai title for a second time, to go with the two DP World Championships, Stenson revealed he had a special plan for the stunning trophies.

“I’m very pleased because I’ve got two titles. I have my home in Sweden and I have my home in America, so I can spread it out and make it look good in both places,” he added.

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