This week’s DP World Tour Championship is the ending to what has been a long and arduous year on the European Tour, and it’s a sneaky intriguing field of players looking to secure what has traditionally been a decorated season-ending event. And while the field this year is not quite as strong as normal, there are still some nice storylines heading to Dubai.
The COVID-19 pandemic has battered the European Tour’s schedule and created some chaos for top players who normally play on the European Tour to close out the year. Last year, Jon Rahm cleaned up in the fall and won this event as well as the overall season-long Race to Dubai. This year, he’s coming off a hectic PGA Tour slate and chose to sit this one out. That’s not uncommon nor should it be held against him.
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That void, though, has allowed players without the resume of a Rahm or Rory McIlroy to rise up and challenge for this exclusive crown. Let’s take a look at a few of those players and some other narratives to keep an eye on as the European Tour concludes its season.
1. Bezuidenhout x3
South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout is looking for his third consecutive win following victories at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open over the last two weeks. It would be a monumental climb in the rankings for someone who started last year outside the top 500 in the world and could end this year in the top 25. He’s yet another in a seemingly endless line of South Africans who live between No. 20 and No. 50 in the world for long stretches, make noise at major championships and have absolutely gorgeous — and incredibly easy — swings.
2. Fleetwood’s redemption
It has not been a stellar year for the 2017 champion of the Race to Dubai. After getting beat by Sungjae Im at the Honda Classic early in the year, Tommy Fleetwood has more missed cuts than top 10s. Still, he comes into this week ranked second in the Race to Dubai and has a chance to amend what would be his first winless season since 2016 and grab his second Race to Dubai victory in the last four years.
3. Reed the favorite!
Patrick Reed, DP World Tour Championship (and Race to Dubai) favorite. He’s both first in the Race to Dubai and the 9-1 favorite to win this week — and it’s warranted, too. Reed has been tops in this field strokes gained over the last three months by a wide margin, according to Data Golf.
- Patrick Reed: 2.43 strokes gained
- Viktor Hovland: 2.02
- Tyrrell Hatton: 2.01
- Sungjae Im: 1.40
- Ian Poulter: 1.10
Only the top four control their own destiny for the Race to Dubai, but tons of scenarios are still in play. If Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Collin Morikawa or Lee Westwood win the DP World Tour Championship this weekend, they also claim the Race to Dubai. If not, then other golfers will need those four to drop down a bit on the final leaderboard to claim the $2 million first prize for winning the Race to Dubai (which is equivalent to the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour).
5. My pick
I’m going with Collin Morikawa for a couple of reasons. The first is simply the hilarity of Morikawa, who has not played a European Tour event this season — (outside of the majors and WGCs — going to Dubai and swiping the championship there. His golf has not quite been up to Morikawa standards since his win at the PGA Championship, but he remains among the five best players in the field and should fare well in his first attempt to win the season-ending Race to Dubai.