You need to win tournaments to be regarded as a great player
Volvo Masters final round:
* Rose won on second play-off hole
-1 J Rose*, S Dyson, S Kjeldsen
+1 P Harrington, G McDowell
+4 M Kaymer
+6 MA Jimenez
England's Justin Rose won the 2007 European PGA Tour Order of Merit title for the first time after victory in the season-ending Volvo Masters.
Rose won a three-way play-off at Valderrama against compatriot Simon Dyson and Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen.
Padraig Harrington, who also had the chance to finish as number one, ended up third in the money list after coming joint fourth in the tournament.
Long-time leader Ernie Els was second after opting not to play at Valderrama.
The South African controversially decided to play in the Singapore Masters instead, where he missed the cut.
The 27-year-old Rose eventually came through on the second play-off hole after finishing on one-under 283 alongside Dyson and Kjeldsen.
But he came close to throwing the tournament away during a traumatic back nine in which he dropped four shots in three holes to allow Kjeldsen to take the lead.
"I am emotional right now - it was a hard day," said Rose.
"I looked like losing and dug deep. I'm sure there's an easy way to do this stuff, but it was terrible.
"I made a couple of mental errors and even saw the Order of Merit slipping away.
"It's awesome to do it. Knowing that I had was a nice consolation going into the play-off, but I wanted to do it by winning the tournament.
"It's been a long road to get here. You need to win tournaments to be regarded as a great player and it would have been very disappointing if I hadn't won this."
Rose had seemed to be sitting pretty as he developed a four-shot lead after 10 holes of the final round, but a double bogey seven at the 11th - after putting himself in trouble in the bunker - stopped him in his tracks.
The mistake seemed to rock Rose's confidence as he dropped further shots on the 13th and 14th holes, and Kjeldsen needed no second invitation as he found form to take the lead.
It's the pinnacle of my career so far
A brilliant albatross at the 17th from Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell catapulted him into a share of the lead at one under alongside Rose and Kjeldsen.
But McDowell made a mess of the last hole to slip out of contention just as Dyson was storming into the race for the lead.
Rose regained his composure with a birdie at the 17th and did just about enough to take his place in the play-off.
Dyson, Rose and Kjeldsen all played the first play-off hole in exemplary fashion, but a superb birdie putt at the next hole saw the Englishman finish off the perfect day in style.
Harrington and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell ended two shots back.
Rose's victory - his first tournament win since the Australian Masters last November - took him to seventh in the world rankings.
"It's the pinnacle of my career so far," added Rose, the youngest winner of the Order of Merit since a 25-year-old Ronan Rafferty back in 1989.