It’s the end of the road for the European Tour and TG Fantasy Golf seasons this week as the Race to Dubai comes to an end. Built in 2008, the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates laid dormant for more than 18 months before its curtain call at the inaugural staging of this event in 2009.
Greg Norman’s design features wide fairways and big, quick greens where extensive run-off areas penalise any misses. Punishment also comes in the form of expansive bunkers while water features on four of the final five holes in a finish set up for drama.
At 7,675 yards it’s long too and being big off the tee and hot with the putter is seemingly the recipe for success here. The five winners of this event – Westwood, Karlsson, Quiros, McIlroy and Stenson – all ranked inside the top eight in driving distance for the week, while 23-under or better has been required on three occasions.
The top 60 in the Race to Dubai standings are here this week, with the sole exception of Paul Casey for whom 61st-placed man Matteo Manassero comes in. Rory McIlroy has already sewn up the Race to Dubai title irrespective of what happens this week after the failure of his three closest challengers to win in Turkey last time out. It is tight behind him, though, with a whole host of players in contention for a top-15 spot and a share of the $5m bonus pool.
Double points are on offer for our Fantasy Golf season finale so choose wisely! Here’s the Team TG line-up…
Rory McIlroy, £5.5m
He might have had six weeks off since narrowly missing out at the Dunhill but the Northern Irishman is too good to ignore after an incredible season. A previous winner and the pressure is off having already secured the title.
Henrik Stenson, £5.0m
A quiet season for the Swede but signs in the last few weeks that he’s returning to his best. Was runner-up in the Match Play, t-24 at the HSBC Champions (with an 81) and third last week in Turkey when he coasted to three straight 70s before a 64 on Sunday. Defending champion.
Jamie Donaldson, £1.8m
Not out of the top-25 since the Bridgestone at the start of August. Final round of 66 in Turkey last week kept that run going and he’s registered top-10s in the last two years here.
Thongchai Jaidee, £1.4m
Thai man has been a model of consistency all year, missing just two cuts, claiming a win in Sweden and registering four other top-10s. Made a good start in Turkey last week when he was eighth after two rounds. Two top-10s here in 2010 and 2012.
Alexander Levy, £0.7m
Breakthrough season for the 24-year-old Frenchman who has registered four straight top-15s, including a win in Portugal and a play-off loss in Shanghai. Showed real character to finish t-11 in Turkey where he recovered from a tough Saturday to shoot a bogey-free 66 in the final round.
Eddie Pepperell, £0.6m
Went 67-69 last weekend to seal 10th on his own and a decent cheque to boot. Made possible by being 15th in driving distance and sixth in putts per round and those stats will shape up nicely against the Earth Course.