The European Tour season draws to a close this week with the final stage of the Race to Dubai. The new king of European golf will be crowned on the 18th hole of the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Sunday. Although all of the European Tour’s big hitters are in town for a crack at the DP World Tour Championship, only five men can win the Race to Dubai, with Bernd Wiesberger in pole position.
Wiesberger is playing well enough to believe he could get the job done with another win but it’s one of his challengers for the Race to Dubai title, Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is the most tempting bet from a world class field at 20/1 with Ladbrokes.
The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates is a fitting venue to cap the Race to Dubai. It’s a layout of supreme quality which is always presented in top class condition. It also has everything required to test the calibre of golfers who make up the elite 50-man field.
The Earth Course is certainly a big enough challenge of distance at 7,677 yards. That provides plenty of scope for some very long par fours whilst two of the par fives are well in excess of 600 yards. Power has always been vital at the Earth Course with several recent winners finishing inside the top five for driving distance on the week of their win.
There is another way of tackling the Earth Course though. Last year’s winner, Danny Willett, ranked 16th for driving distance but third for greens hit in regulation and putted better than anybody else. Matt Fitzpatrick was also right towards the top of the putting stats for his win in 2017 whilst hitting over 80% of fairways and well over three quarters of greens in regulation.
|Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates||Dubai, UAE||7,677 Yards||$8,000,000|
The field contesting the DP World Tour Championship is always made up of the players who have had the best year on the European Tour. It should be no surprise that so many big names have won this tournament but the list of most recent winners is still very impressive. Danny Willett, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson are major champions whilst Jon Rahm and Matthew Fitzpatrick were multiple European Tour winners before getting over the line in Dubai.
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2018||Danny Willett||-18||2 Strokes|
|2017||Jon Rahm||-19||1 Stroke|
|2016||Matthew Fitzpatrick||-17||1 Stroke|
|2015||Rory McIlroy||-21||1 Stroke|
|2014||Henrik Stenson||-16||2 Strokes|
Analysis: Bogey Avoidance to be Key Again
Matthew Fitzpatrick didn’t quite turn the DP World Tour Championship on its head with his win in 2017 but he certainly forced some to have a rethink. Fitzpatrick was the first winner of this event for a very long time who could be placed into the bracket of shorter hitters but he’s not the first player to make the most of excellence with long irons and fairway woods to score well at the Earth Course. The likes of Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter and Andy Sullivan have good tournament records despite being much shorter than most recent winners.
Whatever their specific strengths are, all recent winners of the DP World Tour Championship have taken a strategic approach to the tournament. 16 under par is the worst winning score of this event in five years so the winner needs to fashion a lot of scoring chances whilst keeping bogeys at bay. Indeed, knowing when to settle for par rather than pushing for birdie is vital.
Fitzpatrick Can Strike Again
Rory McIlroy has had an excellent season which could serve as the foundation for more major championship success in 2020. By virtue of fewer European Tour performances than normal and the recent performances of other players, McIlroy is not in the running for the Race to Dubai title however. That won’t stop him from giving his all at Jumeirah Golf Estates where he has played much excellent golf in recent times. The Northern Irishman is the worthy favourite with the bookies at a general 4/1 but may just be a little too short, especially with the absence of regular caddy, Harry Diamond.
The value option in this world class field is Matthew Fitzpatrick at 20/1 with Ladbrokes. The Englishman heads to Dubai with a lot of confidence thanks to some top quality performances in recent months. A run of tournaments that includes second place at the Scandinavian Invitation and the Italian Open has propelled Fitzpatrick to a career high mark of 25th in the world and there is no reason why he cannot climb higher still.
Fitzpatrick will need to be at his very best off the tee to challenge the favourites this week. He has an uncanny knack of keeping up with the bigger hitters on tough, long golf courses though and an excellent tournament record, so has every chance of more success in Dubai where he still has an outside chance of winning the Race to Dubai.
Wiesberger Can Finish the Job in Style
Anybody who comes into the DP World Tour Championship on top of the Race to Dubai rankings would rightly be feeling very good about themselves. Bernd Wiesberger has more reason than most to be proud of what he’s achieved over recent months. It’s not that long ago that injury forced the Austrian off the golf course so the quality of his play of late is especially impressive.
Wiesberger is in a very strong position at the head of the Race to Dubai rankings but will still need to ensure he keeps Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Matt Fitzpatrick at bay. A runner up spot would be enough to assure Wiesberger a first Race to Dubai win. There is no reason why he cannot achieve that. Wiesberger has a decent record on the Earth Course with a fourth place finish to his name. He is playing the golf of his career so an each way bet is most definitely in order at 30/1 with Coral.
Final Verdict: Matt Fitzpatrick to Win
Matt Fitzpatrick will need his best golf to win the 2019 DP World Tour Championship, of that there is no doubt. The 25-year-old is arguably in the middle of the best elongated period of form of his life though, loves playing in this tournament and is very keen on establishing himself firmly among the golfing elite so he does look very well priced at 20/1 with Ladbrokes.
About the DP World Tour Championship
The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai takes place on the European Tour annually and marks the pinnacle of the Race to Dubai series (that replaced the Order of Merit in 2009 when this tournament started). The Race to Dubai runs throughout the European Tour season, covering 44 tournaments across 28 countries and allows players to accumulate points. After this tournament, the top five players get nicely rewarded through the Race to Dubai Bonus Pool.
When the DP World Tour Championship started in 2009 it was known as the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World, which is a title that is only slightly more cumbersome than its current moniker. The inaugural tournament was won by English ace Lee Westwood by a rather conclusive six strokes ahead of fellow Englishman Ross McGowan.
The event has taken place at the luxurious Jumeriah Golf Estates, which is located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates every year since its existence. The Greg Norman-designed Earth Course is the venue for the European Tour’s season ending event.
Since the Order of Merit was replaced by the Race to Dubai, the top 60 players in the Race to Dubai standings contest The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai each November. Being the climax of the series, this tournament ultimately determines how much cash the top golfers in the Race to Dubai standings will receive through the Bonus Pool systems.
Since the first competition in Dubai over a decade ago, we have seen a number of high-profile winners of this tournament, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson. The 2020 edition of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai is scheduled to take place in the UAE at the end of November.
Rahm’s Two Wins in Dubai
One of the hottest players in recent times, Spaniard John Rahm, won the the DP World Tour Championship in November 2019. Rahm was in dazzling form in Dubai, beating runner-up Tommy Fleetwood by a single stroke.
Rahm’s victory in 2019 was his second DP World Tour Championship triumph. In 2017, Barrika-born Rahm edged past Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Irishman Shane Lowry to win by just one stroke. Given Rahm’s ability, and the fact he’s already finished tied third in the US Open (2019), fourth in the Masters (2018) and tied fourth in the US PGA Championship (2018), it is surely only a matter of time before the Spaniard adds a Major to his list of tournament wins. At the time of writing Rahm is one of three golfers to have won this tournament twice.
Dual Winners of the DP World Tour Championship
|Year||Two-time DP World Tour Championship Winners|
|2012, 2015||Rory McIlroy|
|2013, 2014||Henrik Stenson|
|2017, 2019||John Rahm|
Rory’s Best DP World Tour Championship Moments
Along with John Rahm and Henrik Stenson, Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy has also won the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai on two occasions. Rory’s first victory was a two-stroke success over fellow Brit Justin Rose. Three years later, McIlroy beat Andy Sullivan by a single stroke.
McIlroy enjoyed both wins in Dubai, especially the 2015 showdown with Sullivan. The Englishman pushed him all the way at Jumeriah Golf Estates, but the County Down man held his nerve to secure the narrow margin of victory. On both occasions, as tends to be the way at this tournament, the scores were way below par: 21 below par in 2015 and 23 below par in 2012. Prior to the 2020 tournament the best score at the DP World Tour Championship was even lower than that though: Henrik Stenson’s astounding score of 25 under par in 2013 when he won by six strokes from Ian Poulter.
Willett’s Wonderful Win
After Danny Willett’s memorable Masters victory in 2016, the Englishman openly admitted that he was exhausted as a result of the rigours of the golf schedule and would struggle to compete to the same high standard. Willett then suffered a few injury setbacks as well as changing his coach in 2017, eventually dropping down to 462nd in the World Golf Rankings in May 2018.
However, Willett dug deep in Dubai in 2018, going on to win the trophy at Jumeriah Golf Estates with a stunning performance. A final round of 68 did the business for the Yorkshireman, as he was able to see off Patrick Reed and Matt Wallace by two strokes and claim the top prize.
Five British Wins
Britain has been very successful since this tournament began in 2009, with winners from the British Isles in 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2018. In the first event back in 2009, when it was known as the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World, Lee Westwood sealed a big six-stroke win.
McIlroy is Britain’s most successful golfer in this tournament, picking up two wins to date. Also, Matthew Fitzpatrick claimed the trophy in 2016, beating Tyrell Hatton to the line, with Danny Willett coming out on top two years later with a fine two-stroke victory. Three different Britons have won three of the five DP World Tour Championships from 2015 to 2019.
British Winners of the DP World Tour Championships
|Year||British DP World Tour Championship Winners|
Despite this being on the European Tour, it is still notable that no player from the United States has managed to win it thus far, with the aforementioned Patrick Reed coming closest when tying for second place in 2018.