Race to Dubai: Rory McIlroy Aims to Deny Luke Donald's Bid at History

Carlos TorresContributor IDecember 7, 2011

Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy will face-off for all the marbles.
Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy will face-off for all the marbles.Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

The world's top two ranked players, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, will take their best shots at winning the 2011 European Tour crown and money title this weekend at the Dubai World Championship.

The $7.5 million season-ending tournament is on its third edition, and will be played played over the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estate. The Race to Dubai Bonus Pool is also $7.5 million, and is divided among the top 15 players at the end of the season.

This weekend could be a historic one for Donald. He has already won the PGA Tour money title, and is trying to make history by becoming the first player to ever win the titles at both the PGA and European tours on the same year.

In order for Donald to make history, he has to finish at least in solo ninth place, or tied for ninth with only one other player. This seems like a very achievable feat for Donald, since this year he has finished outside the top 10 just three times. The odds look good for him.

But he will have to do it facing an elite field of 58 players, that includes the second, third and fourth ranked players in the world—McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. Westwood (2009) and Kaymer (2010) are the two past winners of this tournament.

The field is down to 58 after Justin Rose and Fredrik Jacobson pulled out from the tournament. Rose will be back in Orlando to await the birth of his second child.

But the only player with a shot at denying Donald from his place in history is McIlroy. The 22-year-old U.S. Open Champ, is coming into the tournament playing the best golf of any other contender. He just won the UBS Hong Kong Open, and on the prior five tournaments, he has two second, two thirds and one fourth place finish.

Unfortunately, McIlroy has admitted to be dealing with health issues. A virus has made his white blood cell count "very low," and he is said to be waiting for later in the week, the results of tests that were made after visiting a doctor on his arrival from Hong Kong.

Hopefully, he will be able to get better and play well. McIlroy trails Donald by €789,789, and for him to win the Money Title and the Tour Crown, his best shot is by winning the tournament and hoping that Donald fades out of the top nine finishers.

But McIlroy is not the only one riding high in confidence and playing red-hot golf.

Westwood is also coming into the tournament off a win this past weekend. He won the Nedbank Golf Challenge, while Masters Champ, Charles Schwartzel, Donald and Kaymer finished sixth, seventh and eight respectively in that tournament.

Prior to that, Kaymer had won the World Golf Championships - HSBC Champions. And Schwartzel had three top 10 finishes in his previous three tournaments, including two top five finishes in a row.

All this the tip of the iceberg, which sets up what should be a terrific and highly contested tournament.

Regardless of whether Donald wins the title or not, he's had one of the most remarkable years in history.

Besides winning the PGA Tour money title, in only 12 tournaments played in the European Tour, he has three wins, two second place finishes, a fourth, a sixth, an eighth, a ninth, an 11th, to go with a 45th finish at the US Open and a missed cut in The Open.

Not to mention, he played in six less tournaments than second ranked McIlroy. A true testimony of his outstanding consistency.

The tournament will start this Thursday and finish on Sunday. Here are the Top 10 heading to the The Race To Dubai:

Rank Player Country Tournaments Money (€)
1 Luke Donald Eng 12 €3,856,394
2 Rory McIlroy NIR 18 €3,066,606
3 Martin Kaymer Ger 21 €2,830,264
4 Charl Schwartzel RSA 17 €2,265,525
5 Lee Westwood Eng 18 €2,004,482
6 Anders Hansen Den 21 €1,738,892
7 Sergio Garcia Esp 12 €1,580,748
8 Thomas Björn
Den 22 €1,517,392
9 Simon Dyson Eng 28 €1,444,558
10 Darren Clarke NIR 21 €1,379,498


-  Carlos Torres

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