"Sorry to say that I will miss the DP World Tour Championship due to my rib injury", Stenson, who won the Race to Dubai a year ago, wrote, in part, in a post on Instagram.
Sergio Garcia can also seal his first Race to Dubai title but is over a million points behind.
At the Nedbank Golf Challenge at San City in South Africa last week Fleetwood was 10th and the event was won by Branden Grace.
Justin Rose is the closest challenger to Tommy Fleetwood this week. After 15 years with TaylorMade, Garcia is testing Callaway clubs for his last event of the year in preparation for changing equipment deals. But Garcia's 2017 has been more than just his Masters triumph, logging wins at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Andalucía Valderrama Masters. The world #19 was 2nd at the WGC-Mexico Championship, 2nd at the Shenzhen International, fourth at the US Open and T6th recently at the Italian Open. "I'm going to give everything I have, play the best I can, give myself the best opportunity of winning and see where I end up".
Garcia is in the penultimate group with Jon Rahm at 12.30pm local time. Fitzpatrick claimed the biggest title of his career in dramatic fashion in Dubai previous year. He beat Tyrrell Hatton by a stroke to win his third European Tour title.
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There was a time when being European No. 1 was a big deal.
The Spaniard is one of only two players who can still overtake Tommy Fleetwood at the top of the standings, although needs a win at Jumeirah Golf Estates to have any chance of finishing European No 1.
The course measures nearly 7,700-yards and the final four holes all feature water - it could be a grandstand finish on Sunday.
"It would be unbelievable", he said when asked if both Fleetwood and Rose fare very badly and he wins the DP World Tour Championship. For £6.99 you can get a day pass, if you just wish to watch one of the rounds, or for just £10.99 you can get a week pass to see the whole tournament.
In its ninth year, this tournament is the final stop of the European Tour calendar where players are vying for the championship title, as well as the Race to Dubai crown.
"It's been great to be able to play better and become more consistent over the last eight or nine weeks and hopefully I can take that into the DP World Tour Championship this week".