It was the kind of hefty recovery operation you’d tend to get in the field of maritime salvage.

While Tommy Fleetwood took the ultimate honours in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City yesterday, Robert MacIntyre’s brilliant weekend comeback gave him the seventh top-10 finish of his maiden season on the European Tour and put him back in the driving seat to be crowned the circuit’s rookie of the year.

The 23-year-old from Oban, with three runners-up finishes to his name in 2019, had slithered to ninth last on the leaderboard after finishing a second round 76 with a ruinous nine on his final hole.

In this no-cut contest, however, MacIntyre showed a terrific sense of purpose and covered his final two rounds in 11-under, which included a charging third round 65, to eventually finish in a share of eighth on a six-under aggregate.

That left the Scottish left-hander six behind Fleetwood, who edged out Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult in a play-off for the whopping £1.93m first prize.

MacIntyre, who added around £108,660 to his burgeoning bank balance, inched up to 11th place on the Race to Dubai and leapfrogged America’s Kurt Kitayama, his chief rival for the rookie of the year prize.

HeraldScotland:

Kitayama, who has won twice this year and finished in a share of 30th yesterday, sits in 12th place on the rankings. The duo will effectively shoot it out for the rookie prize in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai this week.

MacIntyre, who had been 16 shots off the lead after two rounds, was within three shots of the top at one stage of the final round as he covered 13 holes in six-under during a surge aided by an eagle two on the sixth.

His momentum was halted with a pair of bogeys at 16 and 17 but a four-under 68 for another lofty finish underlined just what a fine young talent Scottish golf has on its hands.

READ MORE: MacIntyre shows fight in Turkish Airlines Open

At the head of the order, meanwhile, Fleetwood believes it would be “beautiful” to win the Race to Dubai for a second time after putting himself in contention with a surprise victory in South Africa.

The Englishman’s first win since January 2018 came after he beat Kinhult at the first extra hole in a play-off at the Gary Player Country Club.

Fleetwood is now second in the Race to Dubai standings, behind Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, going into the final event that starts on Thursday.

Asked about the prospect of winning the Race to Dubain again, Fleetwood, the European No 1 in 2017, said: “It would be beautiful, wouldn’t it? It would be amazing.

HeraldScotland:

“It’s such a great, great thing and a feeling to be playing with a chance to win the Race to Dubai in the last event.

“Everybody starts the Tour at the start of the season to get there, so to be one of the guys that can actually finish at the top is very special.”

Fleetwood went into the final round in Sun City seemingly out of contention as he trailed overnight leader Zander Lombard by six shots on five-under.

But while Fleetwood’s closing 65 included a remarkable three eagles and four birdies, as well as three bogeys, South African Lombard fired a miserable 77 that included a double bogey and four other bogeys, dropping him to six-under.

Wiesberger, who could have won the Race to Dubai a week early with a victory, eventually tied for third on eight-under alongside Belgium’s Thomas Detry and Australian Jason Scrivener.

A 68 from Kinhult saw him finish level on 12-under with Fleetwood and force the play-off, which Fleetwood won with a par at the 18th, while the Swede bogeyed.

“Winning honestly wasn’t on the agenda at the start of the day,” added Fleetwood. “It was just about putting a good round together and moving on to next week. But it [winning] feels good.”