Cape Town - Tommy Fleetwood is relishing the opportunity to chase down his friend and Ryder Cup team-mate Francesco Molinari at the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings, as the European Tour season reaches an exciting climax at this week's DP World Tour Championship.
The Englishman entered the final event of the 2017 campaign in the lead and managed to hang on to be crowned European Tour No 1 for the first time, but his role is reversed this time around at the eighth and final Rolex Series event of the season, as he sits in second place behind the 2018 Open champion from Italy.
"It's different for me this year. The biggest difference is it's not in my hands. It's just great to have that excitement surrounding the event again, it really is. You've come this far and to have a chance, as little as it is - and it's not a big chance and it's not in my hands at all - but you know it's there and you're teeing off on Thursday with a chance at winning the biggest prize of the year," said Fleetwood.
"It was a lot closer last year. I had never experienced anything like that playing for a year-long event. I was nervous Thursday, then it changed for Friday, Saturday, and then Sunday again. I think it showed last year, I kind of stumbled over the line but got over the line."
A victory for Fleetwood, paired with Molinari finishing outside the top five, would be enough for the 27-year-old to become just the second player to win the Race to Dubai in successive seasons - following Rory McIlroy in 2014 and 2015.
"Hopefully, come the back nine on Sunday this year, I have a chance and I end up having a great week and I'm playing well, and I can give Frank something to think about. But just knowing that you have a chance and you're in a tournament to win it - I am chasing and there's a lot of freedom in that," said Fleetwood.
McIlroy, meanwhile, is hoping to finish his 2018 campaign on a high note by claiming a 14th European Tour victory and a third DP World Tour Championship title.
The Northern Irishman arrives at Jumeirah Golf Estates following a tied 21st place finish at last week's Nedbank Golf Challenge, where Lee Westwood earned a first victory in four years - and his maiden Rolex Series title - to enter this week with a chance of claiming a share of the Race to Dubai bonus pool.
"It's good to be back, especially after missing this tournament last year. I played earlier in the year at the Desert Classic, and I feel like I let one slip away there. So I guess it would be nice to get one win in Dubai this year and end the year on a high," said McIlroy.