30 Nov 2020

Race to Dubai top five set for DP World Tour Championship showdown

After a year unlike any other, the European Tour’s 2020 schedule comes to a close once again on a perfectly manicured Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates with five big-name players in contention to be crowned the Race to Dubai champion. Former European No.1s Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are firmly in the hunt while there is a strong chance the title could be heading Stateside for the first time with Major champions Patrick Reed and Collin Morikawa hoping to add more silverware to their burgeoning trophy cabinets. Rounding out the top-five is Victor Perez, who has been in superb form and is hoping to become the first Frenchman to win the Harry Vardon Trophy. It’s all set to be another fascinating climax to a topsy-turvy year.

Patrick Reed

Patrick Reed comes into the DP World Tour Championship leading the Race to Dubai and has the opportunity to become the first American ever to be crowned European No.1. The Ryder Cup star has enjoyed an impressive, consistent season and he’s keen to finish it off in style in what is his fifth appearance at Jumeirah Golf Estates. “It would be an honour to become the first American to win the Race to Dubai and I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” said the 2018 Masters Champion. “I enjoy meeting new fans and traveling to different parts of the world to help grow the game of golf, and I truly enjoy the different cultures and countries that we visit. To be able to play at some of the best courses around the world is such a gift, and something that I am truly grateful to be able to do.”

Reed cemented his position at the top with another strong showing at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in October. His share of third place was his second consecutive top-5 finish in the event and he was delighted that the effort he made to cross the Atlantic to play really paid off. “It was definitely worth coming over and I can’t wait to come back again,” he said afterwards. “The biggest thing for me was to come and show support for the European Tour, play some good golf and, hopefully, by the time we get to Dubai, we are in the driver’s seat and everyone is having to chase me.” Winning the Race to Dubai has been on Reed’s mind all season long and he would be a fitting addition to the roll of honour should he close it out in style.

● Won the WGC-Mexico in February for his second career WGC win. ● Finished Tied-3rd at Wentworth to strengthen his position in the lead of the Race to Dubai. ● Posted top-15s at both US Open and the US PGA Championship. ● Was in the hunt for a second Green Jacket after opening with two rounds of 68-68 but came undone over the weekend to finish T10th.

Tommy Fleetwood

In what he described as a ‘funky’ year in last month’s Worldwide Golf, Tommy Fleetwood still has the chance to create a little bit more personal history by winning the Race to Dubai for the second time in his relatively young career to date. Having turned professional in 2010 he cut his teeth on the Challenge Tour before securing his playing rights on the European Tour for the 2012 season. The following year he won his first title at Gleneagles, seeing-off home favourite Stephen Gallacher and Ricardo Gonzalez, and since then he’s blossomed into one of the fi nest – and most recognizable – players in the game.

Three years ago he underlined his status as a rising star with two wins on the European Tour at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Open de France, en route to winning the Race to Dubai for the first time. He followed that in 2018 with a barnstorming performance at The Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, winning all four of his fourball and foursomes matches, alongside Francesco Molinari. “Winning the Race to Dubai was one of the proudest moments of my career so far and I’m looking forward to being back at Jumeirah Golf Estates with the chance to become European No.1 again,” said Fleetwood. “I’ve gone close the past two years in Dubai, finishing second and third in the Rankings, and another Race to Dubai title would be very special to me, so I’m fully focused on the task ahead on the Earth Course at the DP World Tour Championship.”

● Runner-up at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA and the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open – a pair of Rolex Series events. ● Finished Tied-3rd at the Portugal Masters in a last minute tune-up for the US Open. ● Hasn’t missed a cut on the European Tour. ● Top-20 finishes at the BMW PGA Championship and The Masters.

Collin Morikawa

It’s been a meteoric rise to stardom for Californian hotshot Collin Morikawa, who became a Major Champion within 14 months of turning professional. The 23-year-old held off Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey to win the US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, for his first Major title and his third career win on the US PGA Tour. Morikawa won within six weeks of turning pro last summer at the Barracuda Championship and won again earlier this summer, defeating Justin Thomas in a play-off at the Workday Charity Classic in Ohio.

Morikawa decided to take up European Tour membership after finishing in a share of 42nd place at the WGC-Mexico Championship in February and his Major win saw him earn a huge chunk of Race to Dubai points to put him within touching distance of the coveted title ahead of his DP World Tour Championship debut. “I’m excited to travel to Dubai and play there for the first time,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to play outside the United States a few times, which I think is important to experience early in my career, and I’m looking forward to playing in a new environment in the Middle East. The opportunity to win the Race to Dubai is a thrill and it would be a great way to end an unforgettable year.”

● Won the US PGA Championship for his first his Major title. ● Finished Tied-20 at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational. ● Won the Workday Charity Open at Muirfi eld Village on the PGA Tour in July.

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood’s last two victories on the European Tour have been against elite fields at Rolex Series events and he’ll be in confident mood this month aiming to repeat his feat of 2009 when he won the inaugural DP World Tour Championship to clinch the Race to Dubai. The Englishman ended a four-year winless drought with his victory at the 2018 NedBank Golf Challenge and earlier this year his win in Abu Dhabi proved he can still beat the best at the highest level at the age of 46.

“I’ve had some success in Dubai over the years and it is somewhere I always enjoy playing golf, so it will be great to end the year with two tournaments there,” says Westwood. “I’m in a good position on the Race to Dubai and, hopefully, I can play well in both weeks and finish the year strongly. It’s a great honour for any player to be crowned European Tour No.1. I’ve done it twice before (2000 and 2009) so there’s good reason that I can do it again this year.”

● Won on his first start of 2020 in Abu Dhabi with a 19-under-par score. ● Posted six consecutive top-20s from August through October, including a T13 at the US Open. ● Has not missed a cut since the European Tour resumed in July. ● Has been inside the top five in the Rankings since the Abu Dhabi triumph.

Victor Perez

Having discovered a taste for competing – and contending – in the Rolex Series events with two runner-up finishes so far this year, France’s leading player is hoping to sign off in style in Dubai and break through on the biggest stage. “I’m in a great position on the Race to Dubai and it would be a great honour to finish the year as European Number One,” said the World No.37. “I really enjoyed my first experience of the DP World Tour Championship last year, so I’m looking forward to returning with a chance of winning the Race to Dubai. The Rolex Series events are the highlights of our season, and everyone seems to raise their game for the occasion and I’m excited to be facing the challenge.”

In Perez’s rookie campaign last year, he played in six of the eight Rolex Series events with his best result coming at the Turkish Airlines Open where he was one of four runners-up in a play-off to Tyrrell Hatton. This came just a month after he won his first European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, not far from the town of Dundee where he resides.

● Runner-up at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. ● Made the cut in his debuts at US PGA (T22) and The Masters (T46). ● Was one shot off the lead heading into the final round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, finishing Tied-16th.

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