More than a 12 months after Pablo Larrazabal gained the primary occasion of the 2020 European Tour season, with two editions of the Alfred Dunhill Championship staged, the season attracts to a detailed this week with the now conventional curtain nearer – the DP World Tour Championship.
First staged 11 years in the past, when the European Tour replicated the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup with its personal model known as the Race to Dubai, the DP World Tour Championship is the fourth and ultimate occasion of the reshaped Rolex Series and it determines who wins the R2D. It’s a restricted subject occasion for the top-60 within the standings however there shall be a lot of gamers within the subject from outdoors the top-60 after a lot of withdrawals because of the pandemic.
Lee Westwood gained the inaugural staging and in doing so he gained the R2D, having trailed Rory McIlroy within the season lengthy race earlier than the off, however for the subsequent 5 years the R2D was all sewn up earlier than this match even started and to this point, solely 5 of the 11 winners of this match have additionally gained the Race to Dubai.
The Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE.
Par 72, 7,677 yards
Stroke index in 2019 – 71.14
The Greg Norman designed Earth Course has been the occasion’s venue since its inception. It’s a protracted typical desert monitor with beneficiant fairways and 99 bunkers.
The Tifeagle Bermuda grass greens are giant and undulating, with quite a lot of run-off areas, and they’re often set to run at 12 on the stimpmeter. Water is in-play on the sixth, 14th and final three holes.
It’s a shocking end that has the potential to supply a lot drama. The par three seventeenth has an island inexperienced and the par 5 18th, with water in play twice if you happen to go for the inexperienced and thrice if you happen to lay-up, is an intriguing gap, the place scores can range significantly, though gamers seem to have labored it out now. It was the simplest gap on the course in 2017 and it ranked because the second best 12 months in the past – averaging 4.63.
Live on Sky Sports all 4 days, starting at 7:00 on Thursday.
Last Five Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2019 – Jon Rahm -19 8.07/1
2018 – Danny Willett -18 150.0149/1
2017 – Jon Rahm -19 15.014/1
2016 – Matthew Fitzpatrick -17 110.0109/1
2015 – Rory McIlroy -21 5.95/1
What Will it Take to Win the DP World Tour Championship?
The Earth Course is lengthy and the fairways are beneficiant so it is no shock to see that the 2018 champ, Danny Willett, and the 2016 victor, Matthew Fitzpatrick, are the one winners to rank outdoors the top-eight for Driving Distance however neither man might be described as particularly brief. They each had a DD rating for the week of sixteenth.
Jon Rahm ranked solely eighth final 12 months however six of the top-eight ranked eighth or higher and he hit it additional than anybody else when he gained right here for the primary time in 2017. The first and second additionally ranked first and second on the par fives final 12 months.
Rahm additionally ranked eighth for Driving Accuracy final 12 months, Willet ranked twelfth and Fitzpatrick ranked second for DA however that is a largely irrelevant stat most years. Rahm ranked twenty first in 2017 and Rory McIlroy solely ranked tied for thirty sixth for DA when he gained the title for a second time 5 years in the past. And when Alvaro Quiros gained right here in 2011, with solely 60 gamers within the line-up, he ranked fifty fifth for D.A.
Nobody hit extra greens than Rahm final year and the second and third, Tommy Fleetwood and Mike Lorenzo-Vera, ranked tied for third for Greens In Regulation. Willett and joint second, Patrick Reed, ranked tied third for GIR in 2018 and as many as seven of the 11 winners so far have ranked contained in the top-four for GIR nevertheless it nonetheless cannot be described as a very key stat given Rahm solely ranked twenty sixth for GIR on the primary event he gained right here, Fitzpatrick ranked twenty first 4 years in the past and McIlroy solely ranked forty seventh in 2012.
The 2014 renewal produced some very unusual placing stats however that very a lot seems like a one-off given the winner, Henrik Stenson, had a Putting Average rating of sixteenth and each different winner’s rating has been eighth or higher. The first and second ranked one and two for Putting Average final 12 months and the final 5 winners have ranked first, first, third, second and fourth and the 2010 winner, Robert Karlsson, and the 2012 winner, McIlroy, like final two winners, additionally each ranked primary.
It seems like a reasonably easy components for fulfillment right here – give it a great whack off the tee and discover your contact on the greens. It’s one more occasion the place energy and placing will resolve the result and it is principally only a birdie-fest.
Is There an Angle In?
Anyone that performs desert golf properly have to be revered. Rahm had type within the States within the desert (he completed fifth in Phoenix in his second begin on the PGA Tour) and he adopted victory right here with success within the CareerBuilder Challenge within the Californian desert however the two occasions to actually focus on are the Dubai Desert Classic and the Qatar Masters.
As many as 4 of the seven gamers to have gained this occasion in its brief historical past – Henrik Stenson (twice), McIlroy (twice), Willett and Alvaro Quiros – have all gained the Dubai Desert Classic as properly and the 2012 DDC winner, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, traded at simply 1.4840/85 on this occasion six years in the past earlier than throwing the match away on the sixteenth gap. Cabrera-Bello and the 2015 runner-up right here, Andy Sullivan, each completed tied for second on the DDC within the February of 2015 and Matt Wallace, who completed tied second right here two years in the past additionally completed second on the DDC in 2019.
In addition to profitable this title, Robert Karlsson, Stenson and Quiros have additionally gained in Qatar, and the inaugural winner, Lee Westwood, ought to arguably have gained in any respect three venues. Westwood has been in rivalry quite a few instances in Qatar and he is twice completed runner-up on the DDC. The similar will be mentioned of the infuriating-to-follow, Cabrera-Bello, who was additionally runner-up in Qatar 4 years in the past.
Last week’s Golf in Dubai Championship is certain to supply clues. Also designed by Norman, the neighbouring Fire Course is a little bit shorter and barely simpler than the Earth Course with grainier, slower greens however each the aforementioned Sullivan and Wallace contended strongly final week and it appeared like an ideal warm-up occasion for this one.
And lastly, Rahm was the third man to win the DP World Tour Championship twice in a span of simply eight years so it is truthful to say course type stands up properly.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Danny Willett had began to indicate some glimpses of a resurgence earlier than he gained right here two years in the past. He’d completed contained in the top-eight at each the Italian and Irish Opens and he’d sat second at midway earlier than ending seventh in his penultimate begin, within the Turkish Airlines Open, however he went off at round 150.0149/1.
He was the primary actually massive outsider to win, the second to be matched at a triple-figure worth, the primary to be described as largely out of shape and he was simply the second winner in 10 years to not have gained an occasion someplace earlier within the season. Stenson, in 2014, is the one different to win right here with out lifting a trophy earlier within the season.
All the winners have been top-class gamers and up till 2016, when Fitzpatrick gained having been matched at a triple-figure worth earlier than the off, the 2011 winner, Quiros, who was matched at odds of 44.043/1, had been, by a ways, the largest priced winner of the occasion.
Rahm was typically an 8.07/1 shot final 12 months and Rory and Stenson, who’ve each gained the occasion twice, had been buying and selling at single-figure worths in every of the 2 years through which they gained so the match has a historical past of going to the fancied gamers.
Previous Rolex Series winners command respect
The Rolex Series has been halved this season due to the pandemic, so that is the fourth and ultimate one in every of 2020. I’ve listed all of the earlier sequence winners so far beneath. They are likely to go to fancied gamers, though the primary two winners in 2020 bucked the pattern considerably.
Aaron Rai was profitable his first Rolex Series occasion when he beat Tommy Fleetwood in additional time on the Scottish Open nevertheless it’s fascinating to notice that every one the Scottish Open winners have been outsiders because it turned a Rolex Series occasion and that – that match seems to be one thing of an outlier given eight of the final ten Rolex Series occasions have been gained by somebody who had gained a minimum of one beforehand.
Rolex Series Winners
BMW PGA Championship 2017 – Alex Noren 22.021/1 1/2
Open de France 2017 – Tommy Fleetwood 25.024/1
Irish Open 2017 – Jon Rahm 18.017/1 1/3
Scottish Open 2017 – Rafa Cabrera-Bello 65.064/1
Italian Open 2017 – Tyrrell Hatton 20.019/1
Turkish Airlines Open 2017 – Justin Rose 9.28/1 1/2
Nedbank Golf Challenge 2017 – Branden Grace 18.017/1
DP World Championship 2017 – Jon Rahm 13.012/1 2/3
BMW PGA Championship 2018 – Francesco Molinari 22.021/1
Italian Open 2018 – Thorbjorn Olesen 130.0129/1
Open de France 2018 – Alex Noren 19.5 2/2
Irish Open 2018 – Russell Knox 27.026/1
Scottish Open 2018 – Brandon Stone 1000.0
Turkish Airlines Open 2018 – Justin Rose 5.85/1 2/2
Nedbank Golf Challenge 2018 – Lee Westwood 55.054/1
DP World Championship 2018 – Danny Willett 150.0149/1 1/2
Abu Dhabi Championship 2019 – Shane Lowry 90.089/1
Irish Open 2019 – Jon Rahm 10.09/1 3/3
Scottish Open 2019 – Bernd Wiesberger 46.045/1
BMW PGA Championship 2019 – Danny Willett 80.079/1 2/2
Italian Open 2019 – Bernd Wiesberger 55.054/1 2/2
Turkish Airlines Open 2019 – Tyrrell Hatton 20.019/1 2/2
Nedbank Golf Challenge 2019 – Tommy Fleetwood 20.019/1 2/2
DP World Championship 2019 – Jon Rahm 8.07/1 4/4
Abu Dhabi Championship 2020 – Lee Westwood 140.0139/1 2/2
Scottish Open 2020 – Aaron Rai 110.0109/1
BMW PGA Championship 2019 – Tyrrell Hatton 22.021/1 3/3
Winner’s Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2019 – Jon Rahm – tied for the lead 2.0621/20
2018 – Danny Willett – tied for the lead 5.69/2
2017 – Jon Rahm – tied second – trailing by one 4.77/2
2016 – Matthew Fitzpatrick – tied second – trailing by one 6.86/1
2015 – Rory McIlroy – second – trailing by one 2.111/10
After a gap 69, Rahm sat 4 off the lead and tied for sixteenth when he gained right here for the primary time three years in the past and that is the furthest any winner has trailed by after the opening spherical.
The Spaniard was third and solely three off the lead final 12 months, Fitzpatrick sat tied for seventh and three again in 2016 and aside from Rahm in 2017, that is the furthest any winner has trailed by after the opening day’s play, so that is most definitely a frontrunner’s monitor. The first seven winners, and 9 of the 11 so far, all opened-up with a spherical of 68 or higher and they had been all contained in the top-six locations after day one.
The final two winners sat second at midway and 4 of the primary 5 winners right here had been in entrance at midway. Robert Karlsson, who beat Ian Poulter in a play-off in 2010, is the one winner to not be sitting contained in the top-eight at midway or first or second with a spherical to go however bizarrely, he is nonetheless the one first spherical chief to go on to win. He’d dropped again right into a tie for twelfth after a second spherical 75 earlier than rallying with back-to-back 67s over the weekend to catch Poulter.
As this match decides the Race to Dubai, the sphere will exit in reverse order after spherical one this week and which may go some solution to explaining why the leaders are so onerous to catch.
When interviewed by Sky after spherical two 4 years in the past, Andy Sullivan talked about how a lot hotter it was within the afternoons right here and how he could not attain the second inexperienced in two within the morning however that the latter starters would get there simply. Maybe the leaders’ getting extra beneficial situations is among the explanation why it is onerous to play catch-up? With solely 60 within the subject, the unfold is not large, nevertheless it’s meals for thought.
If you are betting in-running, beware the tough end the place we have already witnessed drama aplenty. The sixteenth is a reasonably tough par 4 with strategic positioned fairway bunkers that actually caught out Cabrera-Bello in 2014 and the par three seventeenth can also be robust…
Having been two clear and having already been matched at a low of simply 1.041/25, Rory hit a stinker of a tee-shot there 5 years in the past to search out the water. It appeared prefer it was sport on for a couple of minutes and that he and the eventual runner-up, the aforementioned Sullivan, would go up the 18th tied for the lead however Rory drained his bogey putt from round 30 toes and from that second on there was solely ever going to be one winner. The 2016 renewal was much more dramatic…
Tyrrell Hatton was matched at odds-on on 5 separate events throughout spherical 4 and he hit a low of 1.132/15 when he made a miraculous par save on the seventeenth gap however with the occasion at his mercy, he drove in to the water on the 18th and Fitzpatrick made birdie there to pip him by one.
Justin Rose was matched at simply 1.434/9 earlier than he misplaced his approach badly on the back-nine to complete tied fourth in 2017 and there have been all types of shenanigans final 12 months from day one onwards…
Pre-event favorite, Rory McIlroy, was matched at a low of 1.9520/21 in the course of the first spherical and massive outsider, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, a pre-event 160.0159/1 likelihood, was matched at 2.01/1 in the course of the second spherical when he led the occasion by six strokes however Rahm was at all times lurking.
The Spaniard drew alongside Lorenzo-Vera with a spherical to go and he began the fourth spherical like a person possessed, recording birdies at 5 of the primary seven holes. It was his flip to steer by six and he was matched at simply 1.031/33 however even for the perfect gamers on the planet, profitable is rarely straightforward and what appeared like being a somewhat boring affair, became fairly an interesting finale. Rahm performed his subsequent eight holes in two-over par, Lorenzo-Vera rallied, and Tommy Fleetwood put in a wonderful cost, birdying 5 of his final seven holes to attract alongside Rahm, posting an 18-under-par match whole.
Fleetwood was matched at a low of 3.3512/5 as he waited to see if Rahm would birdie the par 5 18th to foil the Englishman’s late rally and Lorenzo-Vera was nonetheless in with a shout given he trailed the pair by only a stroke however his likelihood was misplaced when he drove into the drink on 18. Rahm smashed his drive down the center earlier than discovering the greenside bunker together with his second and he was calmness personified as he obtained up-and-down for birdie and the win.
*I’ll be again later within the week with a quick take a look at the primary contenders and with my choice or picks as soon as the sphere is understood and the market is about.
*You can comply with me on Twitter @SteveThePunter