By William Hill
Last Updated: 20th November 2019
The European Tour season ends this weekend as the Earth Course in Dubai hosts the DP World Tour Championship.
Now in its 10th year, the tournament is the eighth and final event of the Rolex Series and determines who wins the Race To Dubai, with five men – Bernd Wiesberger, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Matthew Fitzpatrick – all still in the running.
Here is our preview of the tournament at the Greg Norman-designed course.
McIlroy and Rahm the clear favourites
It’s hardly surprising to see Rory McIlroy chalked up as the 7/2 favourite. His form figures here read a seriously impressive 3-5-11-1-5-2-1-9-20 and he’s had a superb year, winning The Players, the Canadian Open, the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup and most recently the WGC-HSBC Champions in China three weeks ago. A large part of his success this season has been down to a much hotter putter, and considering he has ranked in the top five in 36% of his last 50 starts and hasn’t been out of the first three in his last five starts in the UAE, plenty will see him as a bet to nothing.
The only negative around Rory this week is the absence of his caddie, Harry Diamond, whose wife is due to give birth. It’s probably nothing to worry about, but given his very short price, it’s a big enough reason to leave the Northern Irishman out of the staking plan.
Jon Rahm comes next in the betting at 13/2 and compared to McIlroy, he surely offers better value. Since missing back-to-back cuts in America earlier in the year, he has similarly standout form figures of 3-2-1-11-7-3-5-13-2-MC-1 and must be happy returning to the course he won at two years ago. The Spaniard is looking to win his fourth Rolex Series event and given his incredible European Tour record where he has a top-five strike rate of 55% and a win rate of 28%, he must be expected to contend.
Like McIlroy, there are negatives that come with backing Rahm, though. He hasn’t been seen since winning the Open de Espana seven weeks ago and by missing a World Golf Championship as well as two Rolex Series events, he has severely dented his chances of winning the Race To Dubai title. Rahm’s form after a break of five weeks or more reads MC-22-34-15, hardly a glowing endorsement and in a select field like this one, you can’t afford to be ring-rusty when teeing off on Thursday.
In-form Reed and Hatton fancied to go well again
There aren’t many more in-form players in the field than Patrick Reed and he looks a cracking bet at 18/1 here. The enigmatic American has been in great heart over the past couple of months with top-10 finishes at the BMW PGA, in China and in Turkey and had it not been for a few careless errors in Turkey, he could easily have won.
His form at the Earth Course gives plenty of grounds for optimism too, with his three starts there reading 2-10-10. When Reed is good he’s very good and it’s clear the design of this layout suits him with aggression and birdies the order of the day. He’s a big confidence player and that win at the Northern Trust a few months ago has clearly reignited the fire with just one finish outside the top-20 in eight starts since. His inclusion in Tiger Woods’ Presidents Cup team has given him a further confidence boost and there is every reason to suggest he’ll challenge here.
Tyrrell Hatton did this blog a favour by outlasting five other men to win the Turkish Airlines Open and the Englishman is fancied to go well again in Dubai. There was no doubt that the golfing gods were smiling on Hatton at points during that final round, but he showed a real tenacity to get over the line and he looks ready to take his game to the next level now.
That win in Turkey was the culmination of a positive few weeks for Hatton where a cold putter prevented him really challenging in Korea and China. He has been so good with his irons recently that it was only a matter of time, given the number of birdie-looks he gives himself, before he contended and he duly obliged in Turkey a couple of weeks ago. In five starts here he has been in the top eight on three occasions, proving it’s a course that really fits his eye, with relentless birdies the required trend.
That nagging wrist injury, the reason he took last week off, is a concern, but given the confidence he is playing with now and the fact it didn’t hinder him too much in that win suggests it’s not too much to worry about. He looks another who is in for a very solid week at 18/1.