DP World Tour Championship 2016 – Dubai at 07:00 live on Sky Sports 4
Last weeks golf
Another blank week I’m afraid as overall yearly ROI drops to +4%. Last year’s haul of +77% was always going to be very hard to match, so here’s hoping we can find a winner this week to ensure we stay in meaningful profit as 2016 draws to a close.
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Tournament History & Field
The DP World Tour Championship has been staged since 2009 ever since the European Tour changed it’s annual order of merit scheme to be known as the Race to Dubai. This is the third and final event of the final series and marks the conclusion to the 2016 European Tour season.
Four players are in with a chance of winning the pot of gold that is the 2016 Race to Dubai. Previous DP Tour champions Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy are joined by Masters winner Danny Willett and last weeks Nedbank winner Alex Noren as the quartet that can finish top of the tours annual money list if things go their way this week.
This is a reduced field of just 60 with no 36-hole cut and all the big names are here – the above four are ably supported by the likes of Thomas Pieters, Branden Grace, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer.
Measuring in a touch under 7,700 yards, the Earth Course is a long layout that unsurprisingly suits the longer hitters. A par of 72 which includes the standard fare of four par 3’s and four par 5’s, the fairways at the Jumeirah Beach Dubai based course are generous and forgiving.
The greens are fast and undulating and many have run off areas that make getting up and down tricky when putting surfaces are missed.
Water is in play on five of the eighteen holes, including the dramatic closing two holes. The 17th is a par three island green whilst the 18th, a par five, has water in play from both the tee shot and the second/third shots – depending on whether or not you go for it in two shots.
The front nine contained the three hardest holes in 2016 (4th, 8th, 9th) as well as the two easiest (2nd and 7th) whilst the 620 yard closing hole mentioned above was by no means an easy birdie – averaging just 4.84 for the week – yet registering 33 bogeys or worse against just two eagles and 80 birdies.
Hot and sunny as expected for Dubai, but be aware of a consistent 8-10mph breeze all week. Friday PM could see the winds blow 7mph faster than the AM – however with just 60 mean in the field, tee times will be much closer together than the average event.
DP World Tour Championship Recent Winners & Key Stats
2015 Rory McIlroy (-21) – DA 37 DD 1 GIR 4 PPGIR 4 Scrambles 8/12
2014 Henrik Stenson (-16) – DA 2 DD 2 GIR 4 PPGIR 19 Scrambles 6/12
2013 Henrik Stenson (-25) – DA 1 DD 7 GIR 1 PPGIR 10 Scrambles 3/4
2012 Rory McIlroy (-23) – DA 23 DD 3 GIR 25 PPGIR 1 Scrambles NA
Team Europe’s leading points grabber in the Ryder Cup fits the bill for winning round the Earth course. Long off the tee, some previous course form (A T22 last year doesn’t sound great, but he opened with two 69’s) plus he’s won twice on tour this year. Last week in the Nedbank he finished down the leaderboard at T34, but two weeks before in China his top 20 finish in the HSBC really caught my eye. I’ve earmarked Pieters down for a long time to go well here and would have been happy to take anything over 33s for him. What better way to cap off a great year with a win here in Dubai?
It has been a quiet time really for the Augusta champion, though there were signs over rounds three and four at the Nedbank that Danny is finally springing back to life after a tough month or two. 13 birdies collected over the weekend on his way to a T11 announced to me that Willett is getting back to the form that saw him finish in the top five here last year. The Sheffield man will win the Race to Dubai with a first place finish here and I’m sure he’ll be going all guns blazing in the city in which he won the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year.
Benny is long overdue another win after last summers tearaway victory round Wentworth in the BMW PGA. A T10 in Turkey last time out followed some nondescript performances across Asia over the past month or two, suggests the Korean wonderkid might be hitting top form once more. Ben An finished T4 here last year mainly thanks to middle rounds of 68 & 66 plus he also finished inside the top five in the Dubai Desert Classic this year.
Enigmatic would be a kind word to describe Victor who is unpredictable in both his personality and golf demeanour week-to-week. At his best he is a a top-class tournament winner, including two final series event victories in Turkey. At his worst he is a grumpy ten handicapper, prone to withdrawing either before or half way through an event. His green in regulation stats in both Turkey and South Africa were superb – confirming his game is in good order right now. Victor also putted well last week, finishing T8 for PPGIR at the Nedbank. Course form here including a T13 and two top 5 finishes on the back of his T3 in the Nedbank last week leads me to believe that top-class Victor is back in town and he can certainly go well this week.
Prices correct at time of writing.