Dubai (UAE): Rory McIlroy’s stunning finish in last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai has reignited The Race to Dubai as the season-long odyssey on The European Tour enters the home straight.
The Northern Irishman needed a top five finish at the Sheshan International Golf Club to keep long-time leader Luke Donald within his sights, but at a mere level par for the day and outside the top ten with only four holes of his final round to go, it looked a remote possibility.
However the reigning US Open Champion showed his class with a superb finale to his Sunday outing, birdieing the 15th, 16th and 18th holes for a final round 69, a 15 under par total of 273 and, crucially, a tie for fourth place in the tournament.
In third place in The Race to Dubai, McIlroy might still be €1,131,513 behind Donald – who is currently at home in the United States with wife Diane awaiting the birth of their second child – but he has confirmed his entry into the UBS Hong Kong Open at Fanling Golf Club, the week before the season-ending Dubai World Championship presented by DP World at the Earth course, Jumeirah Golf Estates from December 8-11.
By doing that, the equation is simple for the Ulsterman – who moved up to a career-high of Number Two on the Official World Golf Ranking thanks to his showing in China – he has to win in Hong Kong and Dubai to have a chance of becoming The 2011 Race to Dubai champion.
If those victories transpire, Donald would need a top 12 finish in Dubai to deny McIlroy and complete his unique double of winning the Money Lists on both sides of the Atlantic.
It might seem a tough ask on paper but not when you consider McIlroy’s form at the two events in question which is more than impressive: having finished second, second and sixth in the last three years in Hong Kong, and third and fifth over the last two years in Dubai. He also has been in inspirational form of late, finishing third, third, second and fourth in his last four outings.
Aside from McIlroy, the main focus at Sheshan was, of course, on the man who came through to triumph in such spectacular fashion, Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who won The 2010 Race to Dubai.
Like the Northern Irishman, Kaymer did not look like one of the players who would make a mark at the top of the final leaderboard in Shanghai when he reached the turn on Sunday in only two under par 34. But a truly stunning back nine of 29 which featured seven birdies, saw him home in 63 to post a three shot winning margin over Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson.
In picking up the first place cheque for €842,218, Kaymer moved ahead of McIlroy into second place in The Race to Dubai. But at €1,026,130 behind Donald and with the winner’s cheque in Dubai just under €1 million, the German will have to enter another European Tour event between now and the Dubai World Championship if he is to have a chance of winning The Race to Dubai for the second consecutive season. However, given his proposed schedule at this present time, that scenario looks unlikely.
Reigning Masters Tournament champion Charl Schwartzel and England’s Lee Westwood, are currently fourth and fifth in The Race to Dubai but, given the amount of money they are behind Donald – and the fact the next tournament for them both is the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World – they are out of the running to be Number One.
Complimentary tickets for the 2011 Dubai World Championship presented by DP World and held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, are available from the website www.DubaiWorldChampionship.com
Note to Editors
The Race to Dubai on The 2011 European Tour International Schedule features 52 tournaments played at 29 destinations, culminating in the Dubai World Championship, presented by DP World, over the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
This third edition of The Race to Dubai carries a prize fund of $7.5 million and a Bonus Pool of $7.5 million to be divided between the leading 15 players at the conclusion of the season.
The potential audience reach of The Race to Dubai events across the Tour’s global broadcast platforms encompasses almost 500,000,000 households (live/delayed transmissions); 218,000,000 (highlights) and around 350,000,000 via the weekly magazine show, European Tour Weekly. The Dubai World Championship is supported by DTCM (Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing).
For further information: Alan Ewens, Media Manager, Dubai World Championship presented by DP World. Tel: +97150 4514188. Alan2804@emirates.net.ae – follow us on Facebook and Twitter www.facebook.com/DubaiWorldChampionship