Race to Dubai heads towards the final furlong

With 3 Major Champions and 6 players from the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking currently inside the first 12 places in The Race to Dubai, the contest to be crowned Europe’s Number One.

Martin Kaymer climbed to a career-high of fifth place in the World Ranking and to the very top of The Race to Dubai following his victory at last week’s US PGA Championship – and the über-talented German will be doubly determined to remain at the head of affairs after a go-karting accident he suffered this time last year effectively put pay to his hopes of becoming the first winner of The Race to Dubai.

Instead that honour fell to England’s Lee Westwood, who cruised to victory at the inaugural Dubai World Championship. But the Englishman, who is currently third in both the World Ranking and The Race to Dubai, recently suffered a blow to his hopes of retaining his crown when he sustained a calf injury.

However Westwood, who is bidding to become only the ninth player in European Tour history to retain the Harry Vardon Trophy, is fully expected to have recovered in time to take his place in the field for the second edition of the US$7.5million Dubai World Championship, the season finale which returns to the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 25-28.

Sandwiched between Kaymer and Westwood at the top of The Race to Dubai is reigning US Open Champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who currently trails the German by Euros 198,483.

The third 2010 Major winner in the top six of The Race to Dubai is, of course, Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, who is directly preceded in the money list by his fellow South Africans Ernie Els (fourth on €1,771,118) and Charl Schwartzel (fifth with Euros 1,694,738).

Els is currently eighth in the Official World Golf Ranking, and is joined in the top ten by World Number Seven Rory McIroy of Northern Ireland (currently 11th in The Race to Dubai), World Number Nine Paul Casey of England (eighth in The Race to Dubai), and his compatriot and World Number Ten Luke Donald (12th in The Race to Dubai).

McIlroy and Casey finished second and fifth respectively in The 2009 Race to Dubai, but with a further 12 counting events – including the money-spinning Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, and the even more lucrative WGC-HSBC Champions – between now and the Dubai World Championship, there is still ample opportunity for both men to succeed Westwood as Europe’s Number One.

The man currently in possession of the 15th and final spot in the Bonus Pool places is England’s Ross Fisher, who finished fourth in The Race to Dubai last year.

The chasing pack is led by Italian Francesco Molinari, whose elder brother Edoardo is seven places higher in ninth and therefore on course to claim a share of the $7.5million Bonus Pool.

Three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland is hot on the heels of the younger Molinari in 17th place, with BMW PGA winner Simon Khan of England one place lower.

The race to claim a place in the 60-man field for the Dubai World Championship is equally intense, with just Euros755 currently separating young Dutchman Joost Luiten and experienced Spaniard Ignacio Garrido in 60th and 61st place respectively.

That duo are followed by the experienced trio of Welshman Bradley Dredge (62nd), Australian Adam Scott (63rd) and South African Tim Clark (64th), whilst England’s Oliver Fisher – currently €10,574 behind Luiten in 65th place – will hope to cap a remarkable comeback by making his debut in the Dubai World Championship just 12 months after losing his playing privileges on The European Tour.

The Race to Dubai, which climaxes at the Dubai World Championship, comprises 48 tournaments played in 27 different destinations, meaning there are now 13 tournaments remaining including this week’s Czech Open 2010.

The second Dubai World Championship will again feature the Number One to 60 players in The Race to Dubai – the season-long competition for the world’s leading golfers – and will be managed and delivered by The European Tour.

Prize money for the Dubai World Championship and The Race to Dubai remains at US$7.5million each, making a total purse of US$15million. First prize for the Dubai World Championship is US$1.25million, and the winner also receives a five-year exemption to The European Tour. First prize in the The Race to Dubai Bonus Pool, which the 15 top ranked players share, is US$1.5million, with the Number One player also receiving a seven-year exemption and The Harry Vardon Trophy.

More news from Global Sports