21st to 24th November
An 11-month battle for the Race to Dubai consisting of 47 European Tour Golf Events will come to a conclusion this week at the DP World Tour Championships in Dubai on Sunday (November 21-24). All but one of the invited top-50 in the RTD standing, with the exception being Tony Finau, are set to line to battle it out for an event purse of $8,000,000 plus the Race to Dubai bonus pot.
Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger will be hoping to hold the chasing pack at bay. His closest pursuer is now Tommy Fleetwood that jumped up eight spots into second place with his win in the Nedbank Golf Challenge last week. John Rahm, Shane Lowry, and Matt Fitzpatrick also have a chance to claim both prizes this week.
The DP World Tour Championship is again taking place on the Earth Course of the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. The power players traditionally have an advantage but plenty of sub-300yard drivers have also played well here on this layout that measures 7,677 yards.
John Rahm did win here on debut in 2017 but most recent winners have posted a top-7 finish here before winning, even if they weren’t consistent performers at the venue.
This week’s favourite Rory McIlroy has won the DP World Tour Championship twice already in 2012 and 2015, as well as posting four more top-5 finishes in nine visits. He’s already won the Players’ Championship and the WGC HSBC Champions this season and he could easily take this with other players feeling the pressure around him. But McIlroy is a best-priced 4/1 and he’s cast aside only because that price makes no appeal.
It’s also hard to fault John Rahm’s form at the Earth Course, with the big-hitting Spaniard powering his way to victory on debut in 2017 and putting up a decent defence last year before eventually finishing fourth. But, again, 7/1 makes little appeal.
Tommy Fleetwood has set himself up with a chance to win a second Race to Dubai in three years after last week’s win in South Africa but it’s always hard to win back to back events. He’s also not finished better than ninth here in previous visits, but his form at last week’s event was on a similar level to his form in this tournament.
Tyrell Hatton has course form, but he may have had his day in the sun when winning the Turkish Airlines Open. Justin Rose is dual runner-up here and looks overpriced at around 20/1, though the suspicion is he’s not consistently playing well enough over four rounds to win.
So, it’s Last year’s runner-up Patrick Reed who is the first of this week’s free tips for the DP World Tour Championship, as the American would surely love to win one of Europe’s biggest events as much as he likes winning Ryder Cup matches. He’s also got the course form in the bag having finished 10/10/2 on his last three visits, whilst he’s posted five consecutive top-17 finishes in the lead up to the event, so arrives in good form.
The second of this week’s DP World Tour free Tips if Matt Fitzpatrick. The young Englishman has endured a frustrating season so far having failed to nail a win, but he’s already a winner here having taken the title in 2016. McIlroy and Stenson have both won it twice in the last eight years so I don’t see why he can’t join them. He’ll be hoping the rain stays away as a dry course will negate the advantage the bombers hold over him.
As John Rahm showed what could be done on debut, I’m also happy to take a chance on a couple of debutants this week in the shape of Victor Perez and Matthias Schwab. Frenchman Perez is enjoying a wonderful Autumn after a confidence boosting win in the Alfred Dunhill Links and he’s finished fourth in the WGC HSBC Championship and second in the Turkish Airlines Open on his last two starts. He has plenty of power and could take an instant liking to the Earth Course.
Schwab has tied with Perez in both his last two tournaments and his ball-striking reminds me of Henrik Stenson who has played well here many times here. He’s been in great form all season and could easily upset some of the bigger names.