Rory McIlroy gets to enjoy a victory lap at the DP World Tour Championship. The golf superstar has already locked up the European Tour title heading into the season's final event, meaning he'll add at least one piece of hardware to his trophy case regardless of the result.
While his dominance eliminates some of the buzz around the tournament, the star-studded field should make for an intriguing weekend anyway. McIlroy is joined by Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, among others.
In fact, the entire European Ryder Cup team, which staged a furious rally to take down the United States in September, will be teeing it up this week. That should make the event interesting even though the overall title isn't up for grabs.
Here's a look at all the important information for the Tour Championship followed by some golfers to watch and a tournament prediction.
Where: Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When: Thursday, Nov. 22 - Sunday, Nov. 25
Notable Groupings for Round 1 (All Times ET)
|Thursday Tee Time||Golfer||Golfer|
|2:50 a.m.||Nicolas Colsaerts ||Lee Westwood|
|3 a.m.||Graeme McDowell||Paul Lawrie|
|3:10 a.m.||Francesco Molinari||Luke Donald|
|3:30 a.m.||Justin Rose||Louis Oosthuizen|
|3:40 a.m.||Peter Hanson||Rory McIlroy|
A full list of tee times for the opening round are available on the European Tour's official site.
|Round 1||Nov. 22||3 a.m. ET||Golf Channel|
|Round 2||Nov. 23||3 a.m. ET||Golf Channel|
|Round 3||Nov. 24||3 a.m. ET||Golf Channel|
|Round 4||Nov. 25||3 a.m. ET||Golf Channel|
Golfers to Watch
Donald moved past Tiger Woods into the No. 2 spot in the World Golf Rankings after a victory in Japan last week, but still trails McIlroy by a sizable margin. He'll be looking to cut into that deficit with a strong performance this week.
While his ranking proves he's one of the most talented golfers on the planet, the lack of a major championship remains a glaring hole in an otherwise terrific résumé. He never seems to bring his A-game to big events, which the European Tour finale certainly is.
If he could pull out a victory this weekend, it would go a long way in helping his confidence heading into 2013. He finished third last year, including back-to-back six-under-par rounds on the weekend. He'll be in the mix again.
Who will win the tournament?
What a season it's been for the Northern Irishman. He finally enjoyed the breakout season fans have been expecting from him for the past few years. He won the PGA Champions, the European title and came in second during the FedEx Cup playoffs.
He's always possessed the talent to become the world's best player, but it took time for him to adapt to the spotlight. Now that he's comfortable with the added attention, there's not much standing in his way from going on a tear over the next few years.
As for this week, he would love to put an exclamation point at the end of a terrific season. Although it's impossible to know how much energy he has left in the tank after a grueling schedule, don't be surprised if McIlroy is holding two trophies on Sunday.
McDowell is a big-tournament player. He finished no worse than 12th in the four majors this season, including a second-place showing at the U.S. Open. Yet, he only ranks 24th in the world, illustrating a lack of consistency.
That said, when the lights are shining their brightest, McDowell finds a way to make his presence felt. He likes courses that force golfers to grind out scores, however, so it will be interesting to see how he handles to scoring-friendly course in Dubai.
While the attention is focused on McIlroy, Donald and Rose, McDowell has what it takes to steal their thunder. It all comes down to which version of him shows up this week after a lackluster showing in his last European Tour event earlier in the month.