The Preview: DP World Tour Championship – Golf Australia Magazine
The winner will take home US$3,000,000 but there is also the not insignificant matter of the season long Race to Dubai winner with Ryan Fox and Rory McIlroy set to battle for top honours.
This is the 14th playing of the tournament at the Jumeriah Estates Earth course and the ninth as part of the season long Race to Dubai.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Collin Morikawa rained on Rory McIlroy’s parade in 2021 with a come from behind win to capture both the tournament and the European No.1 title for the year.
The reigning Open champion at the time, Morikawa became the first American to win the season long Race to Dubai title courtesy of a final round 66.
While it was a superb performance from the American, the tournament will be remembered more for McIlroy ripping his shirt in frustration at the end of the final round.
The Northern Irishman began Sunday with a one-shot lead but struggled to a two-over 74 to slip down the standings.
RIGHT: Collin Morikawa claimed the title and Race to Dubai here last year but won’t be in Dubai this week. PHOTO: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
COURSE: Designed by Greg Norman with the specific intent of hosting this tournament, the Earth Course at Jumeriah Estates has proved a decent test for the field each year.
Unusually, the first staging of the event was also the first official playing of the course with the developers delaying its opening until tournament time.
Known as much for its near flawless condition as any particular architectural elements, the course has, for the most part, proved a worthwhile tournament host.
Winning scores have ranged between 15- and 25-under-par with good golf rewarded with plenty of scoring opportunities.
The closing stretch of holes tend to attract most of the attention, in particular the par-3 17th and the par-5 18th.
Like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass the penultimate hole features an island green though a much bolder green complex with the putting surface measuring 50 yards from front to back.
Shaped like a clover, most players will play for the centre of the surface (easier said than done) and putt to pins tucked in the corners with birdies harder to find than bogeys in the closing stages of the tournament.
However, the par-5 18th offers immediate reprieve for those bold enough (and long enough) to take it on.
A beast at 595 metres (yes, you read that correctly), a creek bisects the fairway into left and right sides all the way from tee to green before cutting across the front of the putting surface and providing a daunting hazard tight on the left.
There have been some memorable scenes play out on the hole, the most extraordinary coming from Henrik Stenson in 2013 when he feathered a 3-wood to just inches from the cup to clinch the title.
RELATED: So-called expert tips for this week
PLAYERS TO WATCH: With the European No.1 title as well as the tournament itself on the line expect the big names to lift for what is effectively a tournament within a tournament.
Rory McIlroy and Ryan Fox are the two most likely winners of the Race to Dubai crown and both will be highly motivated, if for different reasons come Thursday.
McIlroy has unfinished business after last year’s meltdown cost him a chance at a third win at this venue but also has the added opportunity to claim top spot on both sides of the Atlantic having won the FedExCup in August.
McIlroy’s form at the event also suggests he should be a clear favourite with nine top-10 finishes in 11 starts.
For Fox, 2022 has been a breakout season where his immense talent seems to have finally been matched by results.
One of the longest hitters in the professional game, Fox has always looked a world beater but has struggled to get across the line at the top level. Until this year.
The New Zealand native has won twice this season including an emotional victory at the Dunhill Links event at St Andrews.
A win this week would not only cement Fox’s place as one of Europe’s best but would be an added confidence boost and perhaps the springboard to an even better 2023.
Of course, McIlroy and Fox won’t have it all their own way and there are three others who have an outside chance of claiming the Race to Dubai title with a victory.
Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland and Adrian Meronk would all need to rely on the top two finishing down the standings but for all three the equation is simple: they must win to have a chance.
Fitzpatrick has the edge if past results are anything to go by, the Englishman posting five top-10 finishes in seven starts including a win and runner-up the past two years.
Among the biggest threats this week will be two-time winner Jon Rahm who makes his fourth visit to the tournament where he is yet to finish outside the top-four.
Victories in 2017 and 2019 sandwiched a T4 result in 2018 meaning the former World No.1 arrives at the first tee Thursday with nothing but good memories.
72-HOLE RECORD: 264 (-25, Henrik Stenson, 2013)
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No Australian has won this tournament.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Min Woo Lee.
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 505 6pm – 12am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 505 6pm – 12am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 505 6pm – 12am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 505 5.30pm – 11.30pm)
*AEDT, check local guides