Final Series Golf 2013: Predicting Race to Dubai Winner After BMW Masters
With the first of the four tournaments that make up the Race to Dubai's season-ending Final Series now complete, the competition at the top of the European Tour's money list is hotting up.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano's win at the first of the these pivotal meetings, the BMW Masters staged at Shanghai's Lake Malaren Golf Club, catapulted the Spanish ace to fourth in the overall lead table, up from 35.
Such a dramatic leap in placings was made possible by the tournament's gainful prize fund of $7 million, with the next three competitions also offering eye-watering purses of $8.5 million, $7 million and $8 million at the Shanghai WGC-HSBC Champions, Turkish Airlines Open and DP World Tour Championship in Dubai respectively.
Ahead of the fast climbing Fernandez-Castano is a top three that will remain unchanged going into the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament with Justin Rose in third, Graeme McDowell in second and Henrik Stenson leading the pack, as he has done for a large proportion of the year.
The Swede is looking to best Rory McIlroy's and Luke Donald's winning streaks in recent years by completing the unique feat of winning both the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles by topping the Race to Dubai off the back of his FedEx Cup victory.
He would be the first European golfer to record such an achievement in a single season if he can hold his nerve throughout the Final Series, although it may be a problem with his wrist rather than his composure that derails Stenson's attempt to make history.
The 37-year-old complained of pains in his wrist back in September when he won the richest prize in golf in Atlanta, almost doubling his career earnings with the PGA Tour jackpot and FedEx Cup bonus.
Having taken time out to see a physiotherapist prior to this crucial and intense run of tournaments, which began with the BMW Masters, the fact that his injury is still causing him problems is a worry for the table topper.
That could allow McDowell and Rose to leapfrog the Race to Dubai leader, although considering the riches offered in the final three competitions, other relative outsiders such as Fernandez-Castano could theoretically storm to the top of the list should anyone be able to string together multiple high finishes.
Who will win the Race to Dubai?
Finishing second in the Shanghai BMW Masters, just one shot behind the Spaniard on -10, was Ryder Cup and Seve Trophy hero Francesco Molinari, who lingers in 11th place in the Race to Dubai. The Italian is well placed to raid the upper echelons of the table if he can carry his form through the rest of the Final Series.
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee also ended the BMW Masters on -10, ultimately coming in third, which sent him up to sixth on the money list. Like Molinari and Fernandez-Castano, the 43-year-old could be a dangerous man for the established trio at the front of the field.
Yet considering his lead, and the fact that he won the FedEx cup while suffering wrist pain, it arguably remains Stenson's to lose, having already shown the grit and focus to play through both pressure and discomfort.
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