Rory McIlroy can close out the year with a win in Dubai. Image courtesy of europeantour.com
After 44 tournaments spread over 11 months, 24 countries and five continents, the Race to Dubai finally comes to a close this week at the season ending World Tour Championship.
Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy comes in to the event after missing only his third cut of the season in Hong Kong last week. The world number one has excelled in the UAE throughout his career, though, having collected his maiden European Tour title in Dubai in 2009. He has also finished third (2009), fifth (2010) and tied for 11th (2011) in the previous three editions of this event.
Two players come in to the tournament on the back of surprise victories last week. Swede Henrik Stenson only assured himself of a place in the tournament thanks to his victory in the South African Open Championship, which was his first title on the tour in more than five years. Even more surprising was seeing Miguel Angel Jimenez holding aloft the Hong Kong Open title, in the process becoming the oldest winner in the history of the European Tour at 48 years of age.
Born almost three decades after the Spaniard, Italian teen Matteo Manassero could be a wildcard, coming in to the tournament on the back of a fourth placing in Hong Kong. Another youngster with strong claims is South African rookie Branden Grace . Earlier this year he became the first player to collect his first four European Tour event wins in the same year. He has overcome some seriously good fields in winning the Joburg Open, Volvo Golf Champions, the China Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
For any of those outsiders to win, they’ll have to get over a class line-up featuring some of the world’s best players. Englishman Ian Poulter fell short in his head-to-head battle with Adam Scott at the Australian Masters on Sunday, but he and countrymen Luke Donald , Lee Westwood and Justin Rose all have genuine chances of winning in Dubai. Westwood won the event in 2009 while Poulter was runner-up in 2010.
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