Rose looked set for a remarkable third win in succession to seal a second Race to Dubai title when he led by a shot with seven holes to play, only to bogey three of the next five.
That left the Olympic champion needing to eagle the last to overhaul Fleetwood, but his long-range attempt slid past the hole as Fleetwood looked on alongside his fiancee Clare and their seven-week-old son.
Rose had to settle for a tie for fourth on 17 under par, two shots behind European Tour rookie of the year Rahm, who secured his second victory of the season thanks to a closing 67.
The 23-year-old, who only turned professional in June last year, finished a shot ahead of Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Ireland’s Shane Lowry, whose 63 equalled the lowest round of the week.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia and the South Africa duo of Dean Burmester and Dylan Frittelli were alongside Rose, with Fleetwood in a tie for 21st after a final round of 74.
He’s done it.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 19, 2017
It is said that the widest fairway in golf is the first hole of the Old Course at St Andrews. But what is the narrowest?
Might it be somewhere like Valderrama, perhaps Golf Club Milano, or possibly Crans-sur-Sierre?
Not even close.
Filmed on location at the Al Qudra Cycle Track ahead of the Race to Dubai finale at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, we took four European Tour pros into the Dubai desert for a test of driving like no other.
Armed with just their drivers, could Nicolas Colsaerts, Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay or Søren Kjeldsen do the impossible and find the two-yard fairway?
Dylan Frittelli is a keen surfer and the South African will be riding the crest of a wave heading into the final day of the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday after posting a joint best round of 63.
He tied the mark set by England’s Tyrrell Hatton on Friday to coast into a share of second place in Dubai alongside newly-crowned European Tour Rookie of the Year Jon Rahm.
Paired with Masters champion Sergio Garcia on Saturday, you’d forgive Frittelli for feeling nervous flitting around with the Spaniard. But the 27-year-old says rising to the occasion is something he’s always loved, from his early days surfing and playing cricket with older competitors.
“I’ve always loved lifting my level, whether it was golf or surfing or cricket growing up, I’ve always enjoyed playing in higher age groups and stepping up to compete with them,” said Frittelli.
“I’m not a good surfer but I love my surfing, I’ll say that.”
He will definitely be floating down to the Earth course on Sunday after a fine performance. And he’s certainly in fine form, having finished tied second at the Turkish Airlines Open two weeks ago.
“I love playing in front of crowds and with Sergio too, he’s a great guy. And making birdies is fun too,” he added.
“I love playing with the best players in the world. I was lucky to play the Saturday of Turkey with Justin Rose and to watch that guy strike a golf ball is amazing. And hopefully I see myself competing more and more with them.”
You may be forgiven for confusing the 27-year-old’s surname with that of Scottish rock band The Fratellis – but it was the Johannesburg native who lit up the Jumeirah Golf Estates stage on Saturday with a scintillating round of -9 under, which included a melodic nine birdies.
He is on -14 under alongside Rahm, nicely tucked in behind leader Rose. And he’s in good company with compatriot Dean Burmester among the chasing pack, who is in a tie for third one shot back.
He’s hoping one of the men from the Rainbow Nation can triumph on Sunday, but whoever wins will have a scrap to keep Frittelli away.
He added: “We had Branden (Grace) winning (the Nedbank Golf Challenge) last week, the first Rolex Series winner from South Africa.
Hopefully myself or Dean can win it tomorrow, but whoever’s there I’m going to be trying to win and fight them off as much as I can.”
Another man who rose to the occasion after being paired with a bigger name was Burmester, who shot a wonderful 65, equal to Race to Dubai leader and playing partner Tommy Fleetwood.
“After a day like today, just looking at the scoring, I think it will be more of the same tomorrow,” the 28-year-old said of a day of supremely low scoring, with only three players failing to go under par.
“I made a couple putts. That’s kind of what’s been missing the last three, four months.”
Although he’ll be competing against both Fleetwood and his countryman for back-to-back Race to Dubai events to finish the season, Burmester admits he’s pulling for him for the overall series victory.
“I played with Tommy today. There were a lot of fans out there shouting his name and he’s got a lot of support. I’m kind of holding thumbs for him,” he said.
“He also made an unbelievable come back today with a run of birdies. It’s good for both of us and I’m sure I’ll see him tomorrow on the tee.”