It’s all about the Benjamin’s…and with a share of US $7.5 million up for grabs in both The Race to Dubai and the Dubai World Championship, the total prize fund on offer this week is one of the most lucrative in all sports.
Entrance at this week’s season finale is strictly for the 60 top performing (by money) Professionals across the full season but it is the bonus pool that most are playing for, given the Championship itself is a two horse race, and in order to achieve a share, you must be in the top 15 leading money winners when the last putt is holed on Sunday.
Date: 8th – 11th December 2011
Competition: Dubai World Championship presented by DP World
Venue: The Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE
The Earth course is the first course ever to have been built for a specific championship and unveiled as the first shot was hit at that Championship. Some say it’s not one for strategy but it does require you to hit it straight, high and long – although some of the courses 105 bunkers are also strategically placed in the middle off the tee.
For all the agronomists amongst you; with the tournament taking place two weeks later this year it has given Jumeirah Golf Estates the opportunity to overseed the tees, fairways and rough on the Earth Course with ryegrass.
It will be the first time the Earth Course has been overseeded for the event and will give even greater contrast and definition to the brilliant white bunkers and bark mulched landscape areas.
It will also provide a tougher challenge to the players than was the case in 2009 and 2010, with more of a premium on finding the fairways with tee shots.
Yards: 7,675 yards
Par: Par 72
There should be no also rans this week as the biggest, best and most consistent (lets also not forget Darren Clarke) from the European Tour will fight it out for big bucks this weekend in the Race to Dubai season finale (trying not to sound like I’m plugging the last show of some weak plotted American Cop action series re-shown on Channel 5).
The big guns you would expect, are all here – counted, present and ready, although there are some surprise entries close to the squeaky bum cut off line nearing the 60 mark. These include James Morrison (360/1) in 55th – fresh from a sell-out performance at the Picture House in Edinburgh on the 6th December; the famous Lawrie Brothers; “fly away Peter (256/1)” and “fly away Paul (370/1)” in 57th and 56th place respectively; Henne Otto (237/1) – who thanks to a win last week in South Africa makes the grade in 58th; Scotland’s Scott Jamieson (569/1) in 59th who has achieved more or less nothing since July (demonstrating how good a first half of the season he had) and in the last available place – some lad called Christian Nilsson (265/1 – all Betfair) who made it courtesy of a strong October’s work on the greens.
“The Greatest Show on Earth” comes down to the battle between the two best players in the world for the Race to Dubai crown.
Due to Luke Donald’s (12/1 at SkyBet) enormous lead, McIlrory is required to win the Dubai World Championship and Donald has to finish 10th or worse for the Irish one to win – even if Rory wins while Donald finishes in 9th, the winning margin (in favour of the current world number one) would only be five Euros!!
This is a long track and accuracy is not the ultimate factor but with tricky bunkering and strategically placed water, it will be a case of “he who dares…”
Course designer Greg Norman created this track specifically for this event and spent time ensuring a great climax which has become known as the toughest home stretch in the golfing calendar where the last four holes fall just short of a mile in length and are the most challenging and exciting in the sport.
A rejuvenated Sergio Garcia (16/1 at 188Bet) hopes to keep his impressive run of form going right to the end of the 2011 campaign as he targets a place in the top 15 in The Race to Dubai.
The Spaniard completed back-to-back successes for the first time on The European Tour with victory in last month’s Andalucía Masters, a week after also winning on home soil in the Castelló Masters and moving from 11th place to seventh in The Race.
The World number 18 currently leads the Ryder Cup points list and will be keen to put another top finish her in the bag for the team event next year, as a player, not just as backroom staff.
Win or “lose” this weekend, the eyes of the golfing world will be on Rory McIlroy (11/2 with Betdaq). Can he overturn the largest lead in professional golf, stop the world number one, win the Race to Dubai and the Dubai World Championship?
I fear not, but if anyone will ensure we remain glued to the box, sitting on the edge of our seats until his ball hits the bottom of the cup on Sunday, it’s the exciting youngster who’s season has been spell binding from the start to present moment. A top four finish would be a great achievement and another feather in the young man’s cap.
With 8 top ten finishes this year Lee Westwood (6/1 at Betfred) is one tip to take the honours this week. The world No. 3 had the benefit of a seven-shot lead heading into the final round after a sparkling third-round 62 last Saturday in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa and comes here with form on his side and experience from his win in the same event in 2009.
Will be a difficult contender to beat – and with Luke and McIlrory both having firmed up their positions in the World rankings, Lee will be looking to ensure he doesn’t fall too far behind.
Raking in over a cool million Euros in an easy schedule over the last three months, Martin Kaymer (16/1 at Unibet or 9/1 at SkyBet without the Big 2) and his win in the WGC HSBC Champions in early November have catapulted the calculating German right back into form and the fight at the top of the World Rankings.
Sure he can’t win the Race to Dubai this year, but he will make sure he doesn’t give up the biggest prize in golf easily will be something that he will take great pleasure from after a rather uninspiring season – especially after last year’s amazing performances.
Luke or Rory? Rory or Luke? Steady versus aggressive? Youth versus experience? For me only one person truly deserves to be awarded the Race to Dubai this year – despite a late charge that means that it is only one from a possible two – and they exist as World Number 1 and 2 respectively just for completeness.
In twelve outings in Europe, he has missed only one cut, and barring a 45th and an 11th position – the other 9 outings have been within the top ten and within that there has been three wins! Earning a whopping £3,856,394 – that equates to winnings of a whopping £1,210.78 per shot and we are not even on the big money game yet! He has also snatched the money list title of the PGA Tour and is the first person ever to be on the cusp of doing so on both sides of the pond in the same season.
Till next year… Jenks out!