Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the DP World Tour’s DP World Tour Championship taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estate’s Earth Course.
2021/2022 DP World Tour
DP World Tour Championship
The Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estate, Dubai, UAE
Tommy Fleetwood returned to the winner’s circle with a brilliant display at the Gary Player Country Club. He was sensational in the final round and is finally starting to resemble the player who looked so primed for Major Championship success.
And he will feel super confident coming to a course where he has finished runner-up. There are actually a bevvy of course specialists in action this week (more on that later).
This will be the third and final event in this year’s slightly contracted Rolex Series. It will also determine the Race to Dubai champion. It is a limited-field event for only the top 50 in the Race to Dubai standings.
Defending champ Collin Morikawa will miss out this week (as will Will Zalatoris and Thomas Pieters). Next week the 2023 schedule will kick off with two events: the Joburg Open and the Australian PGA Championship.
DP World Tour Championship
This event was first staged 13 years ago, with the European Tour looking to emulate the wild success of the FedEx Cup Playoff Series. The Race to Dubai was born and this has been the traditional curtain raiser since then.
There’s a certain irony that the final event of the DP World Tour Playoff series is going to be played at a Greg Norman-design. Norman has been systematically ripping apart the fabric of golf for the past year.
It’s just slightly strange to have the annual showpiece here. Be that as it may, the Earth Course has been the host venue of this event since its inception.
It is a beast at nearly 7,700 yards. Players will need to get pretty aggressive with the gettable par 5’s. The generous fairways- which are fairly typical of desert layouts- mean that distance should be favoured over accuracy this week.
The TifEagle Bermuda greens are quite undulating and will require some precision from the fairways (little wonder Morikawa won last year). The closing holes offer a stunning climax that can completely alter the course of the championship (just ask Rory McIlroy).
The par 3 17th has an island green and the 18th is one of the most dramatic risk-reward holes you can imagine.
Rory McIlroy arrives in Dubai in magnificent form, defending his CJ Cup title and reclaiming his mantle as the number-one player in the world. And just look at course figures that read 3-5-11-1-5-2-1-9-20-4-6.
He is in exceptional form, and I think he will be super-pumped to add another Race to Dubai title to his collection. A FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai double will help put his St Andrews demons to rest.
Jon Rahm returns to action after missing out on last year’s event. The two-time champ has had an underwhelming campaign, and he will be looking to build some early momentum leading into 2023.
US Open champ Matthew Fitzpatrick is another former two-time winner who hasn’t been in the greatest form since a runner-up performance in Italy. Elsewhere, the likes of Ryan Fox and Rasmus Hojgaard will want to take down some of the more illustrious names.
This is a star-studded field and we should be in for a rollercoaster weekend.
2021: Collin Morikawa (-17)
2020: Matt Fitzpatrick (-15)
2019: Jon Rahm (-19)
2018: Danny Willet (-18)
2017: Jon Rahm (-19)
2016: Matt Fitzpatrick (-17)
To Win Match:
Rory McIlroy 3/1 | Jon Rahm 9/2 | Matt Fitzpatrick 9/1 | Viktor Hovland 10/1 | Tommy Fleetwood 14/1
Ryan Fox- To Win 25/1 | To Place 11/2
Ryan Fox has almost certainly been the most consistent player on tour this year. How on earth he never made the President’s Cup side will always baffle me. He has two wins and four runner-up finishes on tour this year. This includes his runner-up finish at the Gary Player Country Club last week (at another course that rewards great driving). He doesn’t have too much in the way of course form. He opened with a 67 to lie in fourth after round one of 2017. But he has only been back once since. So, it’s a bit of a mystery how he will fare this week. Sure, he doesn’t always compete in fields this elite. But I think his sheer driving prowess make him very attractive in the place market.
Antoine Rozner- To Win 66/1 | To Place 14/1
Rozner is a man who also doesn’t possess the greatest course form. But he has enjoyed a really solid campaign and he does possess some exciting desert credentials. He has actually finished 16th or better in seven of his last nine starts. This included fourth place finishes at the Alfred Dunhill Links and European Masters. And he should suit this course well. He currently ranks 10th in Approach, 35th off-the-tee and 28th in Driving Distance. And his notoriously fickle putter actually served him well at last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge. He is a former Qatar Master champ and 14/1 to place looks very enticing.
The Man to Beat- Matthew Fitzpatrick- To Win 9/1 | To Place 39/20
Just look at Fitzpatrick’s course record: he has won twice, finished runner-up, fourth and ninth. He has also added significant length to his game over the past year (which is obviously a huge bonus around the Earth Course). He loves par 5’s and should score well this week. The US Open champion will feel disappointed that he couldn’t seal the deal at the Italian Open (losing to up-and-coming Ryder Cup prospect Robert MacIntyre in a playoff). But this week just feels right for the Englishman.