Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai
It all comes down to four days in Dubai
for the top 50 DP
World Tour players.
It all comes down to four days in Dubai for the top 50 DP World Tour players. Brendan Barratt
It may not be the flagship event on the DP World Tour – that honour is reserved for the BMW PGA Championship at the Tour’s headquarters, Wentworth – but the season-ending DP World Tour Championship provides a fitting climax to a lengthy season that covers most corners of the globe.
The Dubai-based finale brings together some of the biggest (non-American) names on the planet for one final fling before a well-deserved Christmas break. Some will have spent the season clocking up extreme air miles to earn their right to gather in the Middle East. For an elite few, however, just a handful of events has been enough to ensure their seat at the $10-million table. Such are the spoils for the world’s best players, where money and points earned at Majors count across all main Tours.
Still, there’s hardly any reason to complain. Any time you qualify for the DP World Tour Championship – by virtue of finishing as one of the top 50 players on the Race to Dubai Ranking – you’ve had a pretty good season and, with the prize pool divided among the limited field, nobody is going to bed hungry.
Highlights of Jon Rahm’s historic victory at the 2022 DP World Tour Championship.
Now in its 15th year, the DP World Tour Championship originally replaced the Volvo Masters back in 2009 and has been a resounding success – especially since the PGA Tour brought their season-ending FedExCup forward to August. Now players are free to compete on both Tours and, on two occasions, a player has won the FedExCup and the Race to Dubai in the same year – Rory McIlroy in 2022 and Henrik Stenson in 2013.
Played on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, a Greg Norman design, the event has rarely failed to deliver the goods in terms of thrilling strokeplay and a high-profile champion. Defending champion Jon Rahm has won the event three times, McIlroy, Stenson and Matt Fitzpatrick (above) twice each and, in 2021, American Collin Morikawa claimed the title by three strokes. That’s a pretty good honours board right there.
This year’s event is likely to see Rahm, McIlroy and Fitzpatrick once again in contention, but there are plenty of other major stars, such as Viktor Hovland, Tyrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood, who would dearly love to get their name on the trophy. In fact, barring England’s Justin Rose, who focused more on the PGA Tour this year, the entire victorious European Ryder Cup team will tee it up in Dubai.
For most players, just qualifying for the Tour finals is an achievement worth celebrating, but within the event itself there are a couple of other interesting mini-tournaments to look out for.
FOR THE RECORD
Previous DP World Tour Championship winners.
First up is the season-long Race to Dubai – the Order of Merit, and the ultimate prize. McIlroy appears to have one hand on this trophy already, courtesy of two wins amid seven top 10s on the DP World Tour this season. Should he close the deal, it will signify an impressive fifth Order of Merit title for the Northern Irishman, who at age 34 could foreseeably challenge Colin Montgomerie’s record of eight titles before his career is over.
While McIlroy has amassed a comfortable points lead over Rahm in the Race to Dubai, it is just behind these two superstars of the game where things get rather interesting. That’s because the top 10 players on the Race to Dubai points list – who aren’t already exempt – will earn cards to play on the lucrative PGA Tour. At the end of October the candidates resembled a snapshot of the United Nations. New Zealand’s Ryan Fox, Poland’s Adrian Meronk, Australian Min Woo Lee, France’s Victor Perez, Swede Alexander Bjork, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Germany’s Yannick Paul and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen are all in position to claim their PGA Tour cards, an opportunity that would be life-changing. No doubt the top 10 will all be anxiously keeping an eye on the projected standings as the tournament unfolds.
None of this should distract from the fact that the DP World Tour Championship is a massive event to win. With a $3-million cut on offer for the winner, and only 49 other players to beat, every player in the field should feel as though they have a chance to claim the title, and with it the spoils of a Rolex Series victory.
History shows us that to do so, they will need to go low. The Earth Course, despite stretching to over 7 000m, is no match for the modern game and offers plenty of birdie chances, particularly on the par fives. The tournament record, set by Stenson in 2013, is an impressive 25 under par, and the winning total has reached 20 under or lower on no fewer than five occasions.
All of which hints at another stellar event in the desert, where players will give one final push before hanging up their spikes before the new season – which of course starts again a week later!
CHRIS TURVEY/THOMAS LOVELOCK/ROLEX