The 2012 European Tour reaches its climax this week with the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Rory McIlroy has the money-list title sewn up, but there’s still a great deal to play for.
The top 60 players on the European Tour money list following the UBS Hong Kong Open and the SA Open Championship are in the field this week at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. With a huge prize fund of over €6 million and no cut, it’s a lucrative week for the European Tour’s best.
There’s also a €3 million bonus pool to be distributed between the players who finish in the top-10 on the money list. With less than €300,000 separating Luke Donald in 8th spot and Matteo Manassero in 13th, a victory here for a player currently outside the top 10 could be extremely rewarding.
In theory, anyone as far down as Thongchai Jaidee in 32nd place on the money list could climb into the top-10 with a victory this week. Paul Lawrie currently sits in 10th spot and the Scot will be watching his back with Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood breathing down his neck.
Rory McIlroy can’t be caught at the head of the Race to Dubai. He has followed Luke Donald in topping the money list on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year. Amazingly, he’s only played 14 events on the European Tour this season, but with victory in the USPGA Championship plus five further top-three finishes, the World Number 1 has collected almost €4 million.
He’ll be aiming to finish the season with a flourish. It’s an event he’s never won although he was third in 2009, fifth in 2010 and tied 11th last year.
Last season, Alvaro Quiros eagled the final hole to hold off the challenge of Paul Lawrie and win by two strokes. Quiros hasn’t enjoyed a great season in 2012 and, at 73rd on the money list, he hasn’t qualified to defend his title in Dubai.
In fact, Lee Westwood is the only former champion in the field this week. 2010 winner Robert Karlsson also failed to make the top-60 and qualify.
The Earth Course at Jumeirah Estates is a Greg Norman design, one of two layouts by the Australian at the complex. It’s a challenging track: long with a number of hazards in the shape of water and bunkering.
Venue: Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE
Date: Nov 22-25
Course stats: par 72, 7,675 yards
Purse: €6,249,000 Winner: €1,041,429
Defending Champion: Alvaro Quiros (-19)
Thursday 22 – Sky Sports 1 from 8am
Friday 23 – Sky Sports 2 from 8am
Saturday 24 – Sky Sports 3 from 8am
Sunday 25 – Sky Sports 3 from 8am
Louis Oosthuizen – The South African narrowly lost out in a playoff for the Singapore Open. He was tied sixth in his last two starts before that and finished tied sixth in this event last year.
Paul Lawrie – Runner-up here last year, Lawrie played solidly last week in Hong Kong. He needs a good finish to seal his place in the top-10 on the money list.
Martin Kaymer – He’s showed excellent form in recent weeks, tied third in South Africa last Sunday. He has a good record in this event and a win here could propel him into the top-10.
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.