14 Nov 2018

Rahm targets DP World Tour Championship title defence as Molinari eyes Race to Dubai crown

Spaniard Jon Rahm is delighted to be back at the scene of one of his biggest triumphs as he sets out in his DP World Tour Championship title defence at Jumeirah Golf Estates this week while Italy’s Francesco Molinari is looking to end the best season of his career with Race to Dubai glory.

Rahm edged out Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Irishman Shane Lowry by one stroke last year to emerge victorious in the US$8 million season-ending event, capping a sensational debut season on the European Tour that also saw him win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

“It feels good to be back,” said the 2017 European Tour Rookie of the Year who has enjoyed another solid season with a third title win at the Open de Espana and ended a debut Ryder Cup berth with a memorable 2&1 victory over Tiger Woods in the Sunday singles matches.

“It’s hard to improve on what I did last year but it feels great to be here again to defend another title.

“In Ireland I was doing okay until I made a triple bogey on the second hole in the final round. But I still battled back and almost got myself into the play-off. I came close and hopefully that progression continues and I’m able to defend this week.”

Meanwhile, Molinari is the overwhelming favourite to be crowned European Number One in Dubai this week after an outstanding campaign. The 36 year old was triumphant in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May before narrowly losing out to Thorbjørn Olesen at Gardagolf Country Club in June. Just over a month later he made history by becoming the first Italian to win a Major, at The Open Championship at Carnoustie, before playing a starring role on Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team, winning five points out of five.

“It feels obviously incredible,” said Molinari who can only be denied the Harry Vardon Trophy if good friend Tommy Fleetwood wins the tournament and he finishes outside the top five. “It’s a new position for me and, obviously, it’s just a consequence and a sign of an incredible season. I would have never guessed that I would be here in this position if you told me in April or May this year, but it’s been an incredible summer, topped by an unbelievable Ryder Cup.

“It’s been a dream season for me, and it’s nice to be here in this position. Hopefully I’ll be able to close it out. I know it’s not going to be easy, and I’m not making any assumptions, but I’ll do my best on the course to do the job.”

Also in the DP World Tour Championship this week are American pair Patrick Reed and Xander Shauffele, who are fourth and fifth in the Race to Dubai respectively, World Number Seven Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup legend Sergio Garcia.

With such a dazzling array of talent on display, the 10th anniversary edition of the Race to Dubai’s grand finale event promises to be a truly captivating occasion.

The DP World Tour Championship takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 November. Admission for spectators is free of charge.

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