The DP World Tour Championship will bring the curtain down on the European golfing season this weekend, but plenty of questions remain between now and Sunday night.
With no fewer than nine players in the mix to finish the season atop the European rankings, there is plenty to play for in Dubai.
The event at Jumeirah Golf Estates marks the culmination of both the Race to Dubai and The Final Series, which boasts a massive prize purse this year.
The cash pot in Dubai has increased by $500,000, bringing the overall tally to $8 million with bonuses also up for grabs. The other three events that make up the Final Series are the $7 million BMW Masters, the $8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions, and the U.S.$7 million Turkish Open, which was won last weekend by 23-year-old Victor Dubuisson.
The four Final Series events combined dish out a whopping total of $30.5 million, making it a lucrative four weeks on tour.
Henrik Stenson looks the most likely to walk away with the European No. 1 spot and the $1.33 million winner’s cheque this weekend, but he will face a stern test from those snapping at his heels.
Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell will unseat him atop the rankings if they can win in Dubai, while an Ian Poulter triumph will see him finish top as long as Stenson doesn’t finish second.
Stenson’s biggest challenger could be his own wrist. It has troubled him of late, and he will be hoping that it holds up over the four days of competition.
He currently sits on 2,379,195 points, just over 200,000 points clear of Rose in second place.
The Swede has been extremely consistent this season, with eight top-10 finishes to his name. Two of those were a second- and third-place finish at the Open Championship and at the U.S. PGA, while his seventh place at the Turkish Airlines Open last week demonstrates his form ahead of the final showdown.
Rose and McDowell will be looking to add the cherry on the top of what has been a solid year for both.
Rose, who has been keeping himself busy hitting balls off the roof of a hotel, captured a maiden major at the U.S. Open back in June.
His form has been impressive of late, and he is our tip to lift the Harry Vardon Trophy and end the season as European No. 1.
The Englishman, who finished second last season, arrives in Dubai after two top-five finishes at the WGC-HSBC Champions and in Turkey.
McDowell currently sits third in the Race standings, having skipped last week’s tournament. The Northern Irishman boasts five top-five finishes in 2013, and he will be eager to finish No. 1 for the first time.
|Race To Dubai Projected Final Standings|
|Current Rankings||Player||Points||Projected rankings||Player|
|1||Henrik Stenson (SWE)||2,379,194||1||Justin Rose (ENG)|
|2||Justin Rose (ENG)||2,165,727||2||Henrik Stenson (SWE)|
|3||Graeme McDowell (NIR)||2,057,395||3||Ian Poulter (ENG)|
|4||Ian Poulter (ENG)||2,035,288||4||Graeme McDowell (NIR)|
|5||Jamie Donaldson (WAL)||1,787,159||5||Jamie Donaldson (WAL)|
|6||Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP)||1,559,462||6||Martin Kaymar (GER)|
|7||Thongchai Jaidee (THA)||1,464,747||7||Thongchai Jaidee (THA)|
|8||Richard Sterne (RSA)||1,457,145||8||Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP)|
|9||Victor Dubuisson (FRA)||1,444,069||9||Victor Dubuisson (FRA)|
|10||Thomas Bjorn (DEN)||1,407,779||10||Thomas Bjorn (DEN)|
Poulter will be hoping to replicate his team golf form when he steps onto the course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. He has a personal bet with Stenson—per Ewan Murray in the Guardian—that he will finish ahead of the Swede.
The Englishman won’t have it all in his own hands, but if he can emerge victorious at the DP World Tour Championship then he will be very unlucky not to finish the season No. 1.
Also keep an eye out for Dubuisson. The talented young golfer won in Antalya last weekend, and as a result, he became the highest-ranked Frenchman in the history of the world rankings.
He sits ninth with an outsider's chance of finishing on top.