The 2014 European Tour reaches its climax this week with the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai over Jumeirah Golf Estate’s Earth Course. Henrik Stenson of Sweden is the defending champion.

Lowdown:
The 2014 European Tour reaches its climax this week with the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai over Jumeirah Golf Estate’s Earth Course. Henrik Stenson of Sweden is the defending champion.

Although Rory McIlroy has already secured the Race to Dubai title, there’s still a great deal to play for at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The event carries an impressive purse of $8,000,000 with over $1 million going to the winner. In addition, the top-15 on the Race to Dubai standings after this event will receive a share of the bonus pool, totalling $5 million.

McIlroy has already bagged the top prize, but with 1,666,600 points available to the winner in Dubai, there’s an opportunity for players to move up into the bonus pool spots.

The top-60 on the Race to Dubai standings will tee it up this week and, with a win in Dubai, any of the qualifiers could theoretically climb into the top-10 on the standings and secure some bonus pool money.

Defending champion Henrik Stenson is currently in second spot on the rankings, but he’s less than 100,000 points ahead of Jamie Donaldson in third. Anyone as far down as Andy Sullivan in 31st place could, mathematically, finish as runner-up in the Race to Dubai.

Henrik Stenson produced some superb golf to win this event last year. The Swede finished six shots clear of England’s Ian Poulter after posting four rounds in the 60s and a 72-hole total of 25-under-par.

This will be the sixth running of this tournament. First held in 2009, it’s always been head over Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth course. The first edition was won by Lee Westwood and: Robert Karlsson, Alvaro Quiros, Rory McIlroy and tHenrik Stenson have been champions since then.

Greg Norman’s excellent design for the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates drew influence from the great parkland courses of Europe and North America. The layout features sprawling white bunkers, lakes and creeks, plus an abundance of indigenous flora. This is an extremely natural feeling course, blending beautifully into the surrounding environment.

The track is always presented in immaculate condition with wonderfully rolling fairways and contoured green complexes and it always receives high praise from the players.

Venue: Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE
Date: Nov 20-23
Course stats: par 72, 7,675 yards
Purse: $8,000,000 Winner: $1,300,000
Defending Champion: Henrik Stenson (-25)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Friday 21 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Saturday 22 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Sunday 23 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30am

Player Watch:
The last two winners of this event, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy, will start as strong favourites this week. Who might surprise them?

Ian Poulter – Disappointed not to win last week in Turkey, Poulter will be determined to make amends this week. He was second in this event last year.

Brooks Koepka – The American looks to be on such good form, it’s hard to see him not contending again this week. He’s now got the taste for victory and he’ll be keen to climb further up the World Ranking.

Branden Grace – The South African has been bubbling under for the last few months. He’s made the cut in every European Tour event he’s played since The Open Championship and he put in a solid performance last week in Turkey. He’s an extremely talented player and it’s about time he won again.

Key hole: 18th. A long par 5 (over 600 yards) with water to the right from the tee and bunkers to the left. The second shot requires a decision – the fairway is split in two and you can either play to a generous landing area on the left leaving a longer and more difficult third, or go to the narrow lay-up area on the right leaving a more straightforward pitch. It’s a great tactical challenge.

Skills required: Finishing. The last four holes of the Earth Course are particularly testing. The 15th is a short yet strategically demanding par 4, then comes a tough and long par 4 where water lurks right, the 17th is an exciting par 3 where the players fire to an island green, the round culminates with the challenging par 5 as described above. Negotiating these closing holes is the key to success around the Earth Course.