Justin Rose is in action in Dubai for the final European Tour event
Long-time leader Fleetwood looked to be cruising to the title of Europe's number one until Rose won back-to-back events in China and Turkey to slash the lead.
Fleetwood took advantage of Rose's absence from the Nedbank Golf Challenge last week to finish in a tie for 10th and almost double his advantage to 256,738 points, with Sergio Garcia a distant third.
Garcia needs to win the DP World Tour Championship to have any chance of topping the money list for the first time, although the Masters champion is not a fan of the Jumeirah Golf Estates course and is using new clubs after his deal with TaylorMade expired.
Victory for Rose, who won the final event of the year in 2007 – the Volvo Masters – to win what was then called the Order of Merit, would see him top the standings.
Justin Rose needs Tommy Fleetwood to slip up this week
All I wanted was to come in here thinking that if I win, I didn't want to be too far behind Tommy so that if he finished second, I still couldn't win. Controlling my destiny from that point of view is important to me
But he said: "I still like Tommy's chances. His lead is significant. It means I've got to play well.
"All I wanted was to come in here thinking that if I win, I didn't want to be too far behind Tommy so that if he finished second, I still couldn't win. Controlling my destiny from that point of view is important to me.
"I like the fact that I don't have to think about anybody else. Maybe Tommy does. There's more scenarios in play that way, whereas for me I think I can just focus on playing good golf and get to the top of the leaderboard. That's as simple as I'm trying to keep it this week."
Rose considered changing his plans and playing in Sun City after his victory in Antalya, but ultimately stuck with his schedule and returned home to the Bahamas for the week.
The Olympic champion received a "clean bill of health" from coach Sean Foley and psychologist Jason Goldsmith and insists he will have no regrets if he loses out to Fleetwood by a narrow margin on Sunday.
Justin Rose has won his last two events on the Tour to get him back in contention
"I would say so be it," added the 37-year-old, who has ruled out any "intimidation" tactics when he partners Fleetwood in Thursday's first round.
"I think I've given it a great run here towards the end. I think that I would focus upon next year already. I would focus upon playing even better in the majors, World (Golf Championship) events and the Rolex Series events that I choose to play and see if I can get it done another year.
"I feel like I will be competitive years in the future. It would be disappointing, of course, because it could come down to one shot and there will be one shot this week that I'll look back on and go 'Oh could have, should have done better there'.
"But I've had tough losses in the past and you absorb it and you move on. It's part of golf. I won't second-guess anything, certainly won't second-guess my schedule. It's just the way it is."