The 2016 Race to Dubai champion will be decided at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Henrik Stenson leads the way and four players could be crowned European Tour Number 1.
As the 2016 European Tour Race to Dubai reaches its climax at the DP World Tour Championship, four players are in with a chance of being crowned European Tour Number 1 for the season.
Henrik Stenson leads the way from Danny Willett with Alex Noren in third place, following his superb win in the Nedbank Championship last week. Rory McIlroy is looking to be European Number 1 for a fourth time, but he will have his work cut out to achieve that goal. He needs to win the DP World Tour Championship to have any chance and, even then, he would need Stenson to finish outside the top-45, Willett to finish outside the top-five and Noren outside the top-two.
The top-60 players on the Race to Dubai standings will tee it up this week, although it looks at this stage like Raphael Jacquelin in 61st and Felipe Aguilar in 62nd will start, as Russell Knox and Graeme McDowell have not entered.
Another battle being fought this week is to make the top-10 on the Race to Dubai standings and, thereby, gain a share of the $5 million bonus pool. Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark is currently in 10th spot but Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger is only 120,000 points behind him in 11th.
Also up for grabs this week is the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award. Jeunghun Wang of South Korea leads that race but Li Haotong, Soomin Lee, Brandon Stone and Ricardo Gouveia are still in the hunt.
This will be the eighth running of the DP World Tour Championships at Jumeirah Estates. Lee Westwood was the first champion back in 2009 and Robert Karlsson and Alvaro Quiros took victory in the next two instalments. Since 2012, two players have dominated the tournament. Rory McIlroy won in 2012 and 2015 with Henrik Stenson taking the title in both 2013 and 2014.
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.
The weather forecast looks typically consistent – dry and warm throughout the week.
Venue: Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE
Date: Nov 17-20
Course stats: par 72, 7,675 yards
Defending Champion: Rory McIlroy (-21)
Thursday 17 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Friday 18 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Saturday 19 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Sunday 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 7.30am
The spotlight will be on those battling for Race to Dubai honours, but who might sneak under the radar.
Andy Sullivan – A strong performance in the Nedbank will stand him in good stead as he returns to a tournament in which he was runner-up last year.
Andy Sullivan swing sequence:
Thorbjorn Olesen – He may have struggled last week in South Africa but he won the week before in Turkey showing some superb form. He’ll be keen to finish the season on a high.
Richard Bland – The Englishman has enjoyed a fine season, he’s missed just two cuts, and would love to finish with a flourish: A good outside chance.
Nacho Elvira – A talented player who has what it takes to mix it at the top. Three top 25 finishes in his last three starts.
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.