On an exciting last day of the 2020 European Tour campaign, the lead in the Order of Merit title battle swapped hands between Fitzpatrick and Patrick Reed on a number of occasions on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Reed, who was bidding to become the first American to land the crown and had come into the $8 million Rolex Series event on top of the standings, was still on course to create history after chipping in for the second time in the final round for a birdie at the 15th.
The world No 11 did it again at the closing hole, but that wasn’t enough to repair the damage caused by untimely bogeys at the 16th and 17th, where he found bunkers on both occasions and, for a change, his short game couldn’t get him out of jail.
But it wasn’t Fitzpatrick who ended up being the beneficiary. He claimed a deserved win in the season finale, using a hot start with four birdies to close with a 68 for a 15-under-par total and a one-shot success, repeating his 2016 victory.
However, after picking up two birdies in the last four holes, including a great up and down from a bunker at the last, Westwood finished in sole second to pip both his compatriot and Reed at the post in the Race to Dubai, with just 25 points separating the top three at the end.
His success came 20 years after he landed that prize for the first time, ending Colin Montgomerie’s sparkling run of seven straight successes, before winning it again in 2009.
“I didn’t really have any thoughts of the Race to Dubai until I got into the scoring tent afterwards,” admitted 47-year-old Westwood, who closed with a 68.
“They have all been very different,” he added of his hat-trick of title triumphs. “I guess 2000, I was winning a lot, but I was still up-and-coming. It was only my seventh year on Tour.
“In 2009, I was honing in on the best player in the world spot, and I needed to win here to win the Race to Dubai, and I managed to do that.
“And then this one, I'm kind of the more mature player on the European Tour now. The most satisfying thing is doing it under pressure when it matters."Fitzpatrick, who described a nerve-wracking back nine as a “real grind”, picked up a $3 million first prize for his sixth title triumph, which is set to see him rise to 16th in the world rankings.
“I'm going to be honest because, at the Masters, I felt my game was nowhere to be seen. I was struggling,” said the 26-year-old Sheffield man. “I didn't want to play RSM (on the PGA Tour) the following week, but Billy (Foster, his caddie) and Mike (Walker, his coach) convinced me to.
“This week was one of those few weeks in your career where you're like, it feels really good and I'm playing really well, and you go and win.”