As the curtain gets set to fall on another DP World Tour season, there’s a familiar name at the top of the season long rankings. Rory McIlroy.
The 33-year-old is trying to become the first player to win the season-ending DP World Tour Championship for a third time, which would also see him capture a fourth Race to Dubai’s Harry Vardon trophy, an honour given to the player who has accumulated the most points based on performance throughout the season.
Should the world No. 1 finish at the top of the rankings come close of play on Sunday in Dubai, he will have won both season-long competitions on the DP World Tour and PGA Tour in the same year for the first time in his career. Adding a further exclamation point to what has been a year of dominance, despite not bagging a major.
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“I have some great memories of playing golf in Dubai, from making my first cut on tour as an amateur, to winning my first DP World Tour title [2009 Dubai Desert Classic] and then finishing top of the rankings on three occasions,” McIlroy said.
The Northern Irishman has led the rankings since July and the season-long award is in his control, but McIlroy’s closest challengers, Matt Fitzpatrick, Ryan Fox and Viktor Hovland will be aiming to try and spoil his Dubai party.
Like McIlroy, US Open Champion Fitzpatrick is also aiming to win the DP World Tour Championship for a third time having won the title in 2016 and 2020 whilst only narrowly missing out on a defence last year as Collin Morikawa left with the spoils. It has been a monumental year so far for the Englishman, who secured his maiden major earlier in the year at The Country Club in Brookline, the same course where he won his US Amateur title.
The 28-year-old has three top-10 finishes outside of that major breakthrough, including a runner up finish at the DS Automobiles Italian Open, where he lost out in a playoff to fellow Ryder Cup hopeful, Robert MacIntyre. Fitzpatrick will need to bring his A-game if he’s to stand a chance at clinching any silverware in Dubai.
“It’s definitely a goal, winning the Race to Dubai. It’s always a goal at the start of everyone's season,” Fitzpatrick said. “Obviously I’ve put myself in with a good chance to do it this year."
Looking to win a first DP World Tour Championship and Race to Dubai is a rested and refreshed Fox. The New Zealander had the clubs packed away for a couple of weeks before teeing it up at the Nedbank last week as he gets set to give it his all at the final event of the season.
He came close to victory in the Nedbank, being pipped to the title by a resurgent Tommy Fleetwood.
Fox is aiming to become the first Kiwi to end the season as Europe’s No. 1 player for the first time since Bob Charles in 1972. Currently sitting at two in the rankings, Fox has arguably had the most successful season on the DP World Tour. Having played in 23 events, he’s notched up two wins, four runner-ups and four top-tens.
The 35-year-old’s success at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship saw him overtake Fitzpatrick in the standings as he enjoyed a one-stroke victory in St Andrews, but whilst he’s well in the mix, the Auckland native knows it will require a stellar effort to leave Dubai with the glory.
“I’ve got to do something special to beat those guys [McIlroy and Fitzpatrick] that have had fantastic years," Fox said. "They are top-10 players in the world for a reason.”
Despite a rocky 2022, the DP World Tour season looks set to finish on a high note with the world's best battling it out in Dubai over a record $10 million purse.
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