DP World Tour Championship preview

Lowdown:

The European Tour’s top players are in Dubai this week for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

The inaugural Final Series is poised for a thrilling climax, with nine players still mathematically in with a chance of claiming Race to Dubai glory.

Henrik Stenson leads the way on 2,379,196 points, but Justin Rose (2,165,727), Graeme McDowell (2,057,395), Ian Poulter (2,035,289) and Jamie Donaldson (1,787,159) lead the chasing pack.

The 2011 and 2013 US Open champions enter the tournament knowing a win will guarantee Race to Dubai success, while Poulter will top the standings if he reigns supreme and Stenson fails to finish in second place.

It is the tightest and most open season finale since the Race to Dubai was launched in 2009.

“All I wanted really was to go into Dubai with a chance and knowing it’s in my own hands,” said Rose.

“That is the way it is and so I’m looking forward to the week ahead.”

Stenson, who has moved to third in the Official World Golf Ranking after a stellar season, added:

“I was happy with a top ten last week which means I’ve still got the lead heading into Dubai.

“I just need to give my wrist a some rest. My preparation is going to be less than I would have liked, but I’ve played Jumeirah Golf Estates so many times hopefully it won’t have too negative an effect.”

The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates will stage the tournament for the fifth consecutive year.

Designed by Greg Norman, it’s a long and challenging golf course with a number of hazards in the shape of water and tricky bunkering.

Unfortunately, the lead up to the DP World Tour Championship has been marred slightly by a couple of high-profile withdrawals – including Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel – but that won’t enter the consciousness of those players with their sights on Race to Dubai success.

DP World Tour Championship
Venue: The Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE
Date: Nov 12-15
Course stats: par 72, 7,675 yards
Purse
: $8,000,000 Winner: $1,333,300

TV Schedule:

Thursday 12 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Friday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Saturday 14 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Sunday 15 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30 am

Player watch:


Justin Rose
– Rose finished third in Turkey last week and fired a final-round 62 last year to claim outright second. A win will guarantee the Race to Dubai trophy.

Rory McIlory – McIlroy has played some good golf of late, finishing second in Korea and fifth at the WGC-HSBC Champions after an opening 65. He also won the DP World Tour Championship last year with a 23-under-par 72-hole total.

George Coetzee – The South African has endured an injury-hit season, but he played well at the Turkish Airlines Open and he thrives in the desert, as he showed at the Qatar Masters earlier this year.

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 will be the key to success around the Earth Course.