Dan Box
By Dan Box

The DP World Tour season arrives in Dubai for its final event this week, the DP World Tour Championship, with World Number One Rory McIlroy in pole position to complete a historic FedEx Cup/Race to Dubai double.

Having already picked up the $18 million bonus on the PGA Tour in September, the Northern Irishman could cap off a stunning season with victory in Dubai and cement his position as the game's best player.

After a season full of LIV Golf defections and plenty of talk around the quality and future longevity of the different professional tours, the prospect of McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland battling it out this week will be music to the ears of Keith Pelley and the DP World Tour.

Last Year

Collin Morikawa became the first American winner of the Race to Dubai as he fired a bogey-free final round of 66 to win by three strokes. Rory McIlroy made a charge but three bogeys in the last four holes eventually led to a tied-sixth finish.

Defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick and Alexander Bjork shared runner up honours, with rising stars Bob MacIntyre and Nicolai Hojgaard in a tie for fourth.

The Field

The top 50 golfers in the DP World Tour's standings following the conclusion of last week's event all make it into the Championship this week... although not all of them will be there.

McIlroy leads the way after an excellent season which has seen him win three times, including the FedEx Cup crown, and regain the top spot in the World Rankings.

Ryan Fox is hot on his heels in second place, continuing his fine form this season with a runner-up finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge last week.

The latest news out of Dubai is that defending champion Collin Morikawa has withdrawn from the event, citing 'upcoming personal commitments' as the reason.

Will Zalatoris also misses out as he recovers from injury, whilst Thomas Pieters is absent as he and his wife are expecting their second child.

Unlike the PGA Tour's final event, there are no starting strokes factored in this week which may make it a little easier for those chasing to win the final event, although they may find themselves too many points behind to win the season-long championship.

The stellar field includes the likes of Rahm, Hovland, US Open Champion Matt Fitzpatrick and last week's winner Tommy Fleetwood, providing plenty of star quality and ensuring that the players at the top of the rankings will have their work cut out if they want to take the title.

The Course

The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates has played host to this event since 2009 and was first designed by LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, which makes things a little bit awkward.

It's very much your modern-day golf course. Long, perfectly manicured, fantastic facilities, perfect for spectators, and with plenty of scope for some low scores for the pros due to the wide fairways and fast greens.

Despite measuring at nearly 7,700 yards, scoring has historically been pretty low here with Morikawa's 17 under total proving that four scores in the 60s will probably be required for anyone wanting to be in the mix on Sunday afternoon.

A strong finish has often been key in this event over the past few years, so look out for the long par-3 17th with its island green and par-5 18th, with water cutting into the hole three times.

The last ten winners of this event are major champions, suggesting that the cream rises to the top on a golf course that rewards power off the tee as well as a sharp short game.

Look Out For...

  • Rookie of the Year

Thriston Lawrence and Yannick Paul are the front-runners for this year's award, with Lawrence winning twice in 2022 and Paul once in Mallorca last month. Both players sit inside the top 20 on the DP World Tour Rankings heading into this week's event, indicating the quality of their play this season.

  • G4D Finale.

The inaugural G4D Tour comes to a close this week at the same time as the DP World Tour, with a field of eight golfers with a disability set to tee it up at the same venue as the Tour Championship. Englishman Kipp Popert is looking for his fifth win of the season.

Golfalot Tips...

Matt Fitzpatrick @ 9/1

Whilst McIlroy and Rahm are rightly favourites, their odds are so short that I think you're better off looking at Fitzpatrick, who has a fantastic record at this event and has taken his game to new levels in 2022 after capturing his first major title. The Englishman has already won twice here and finished runner-up last year, whilst he should be well-rested since a T13 in his last outing at The CJ Cup.

Min Woo Lee @ 33/1

After finishing in the Top 20 last year, the young Australian has shown that he has an aptitude for desert golf and despite an inconsistent season so far, top 10s in his last three events mean that he arrives in good form. Strong finishes in three of the four majors should also provide him with the confidence that he can compete in the big events against the world's best.

Bob MacIntyre @ 40/1

The popular Scot will be looking to claim a spot in Luke Donald's European Ryder Cup team next September, so a good week here could go a long way towards achieving that goal. Winning the Italian Open ahead of McIlroy and Fitzpatrick has been the highlight of the season so far, and he should have fond memories of this course after a T4 finish in 2021.


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