Race to Dubai: The race is on

Dubai - The European Tour's Order of Merit is set for a thrilling climax



England's Tommy Fleetwood at the Earth Course of the Jumeirah Golf Estates. — Supplied photo
England's Tommy Fleetwood at the Earth Course of the Jumeirah Golf Estates. — Supplied photo

By James Jose

Published: Wed 9 Dec 2020, 10:53 PM

It has come down to the business end of yet another Race to Dubai, the European Tour’s Order of Merit, and the race is on, quite literally.

As has been the case on many an occasion, the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, which crowns the Race to Dubai champion, is in for a thrilling climax over the course of this weekend.

American Patrick Reed leads the Race to Dubai leaderboard after accumulating 2,427.7 points from seven tournaments played and is closely followed by Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, the 2017 Race to Dubai champion, 460 points adrift with 1,967.7 points. The 29-year-old, who finished third in 2018 and was runner-up last year, has played 10 tournaments this year.

Fleetwood is sandwiched between two Americans with Collin Morikawa sitting third with 1,881.7 points, 546 points behind Reed and 86 adrift of Fleetwood.

Reed is primed to become the first American to win the Race to Dubai but his flirtation with history could come undone by any one of the 65-man field that includes himself.

With 12,000 Race to Dubai points and 2,000 of them going the tournament winner’s way, the top 60 golfers have a mathematical shot at being crowned the European Tour champion.

And Fleetwood said that as strange as it may seem, it kind of sums up a strange year.

“I think it is strange. But good in a way,” Fleetwood said during a virtual interaction on the eve of the Championship, on Wednesday.

“I think you all get to this point of the year and some people are just ready to put the clubs away. Some people are raring to go. Some people still feel fresh. Some people feel tired. And at the same time, you know that you have to concentrate on day-by-day, and go from there this week,” he added.

And considering the circumstances where they have managed to muster 38 tournaments in a pandemic-hit season and the new normal that the golfers have had to deal with, Fleetwood paid tribute to the field that has assembled here.

“I think for all the guys that made it here, I think it's a great end to the year. I mean, individually, it's a massive event and then of course you've got the added part of the Race to Dubai on there, as well, which is massive,” said Fleetwood, who has five wins on the European Tour.

And Fleetwood, who won back-to-back Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships in 2017 and 2018 apart from being runner-up at The Open last year, has a lot to play for this week.

“So again it's like for me, it's another year where I've got both to look at and I've got the enjoyment of playing for both, which is exciting. I kind of like that I'm getting used to that over the last few years and hopefully I can keep that going,” added Fleetwood, who will tee off with Reed at 12.45 p.m on the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Morikawa, meanwhile, said that it would be the ideal way to sign off the season.

“Well, obviously Dubai is beautiful. I've been looking forward to this trip and I didn't really make my decision for a while, but it was on my radar and obviously I've put myself in a really good position to close out 2020 on a great note. To be here and make this my first start on the European Tour means a lot,” said Morikawa.

The 22-years-old, who is ranked seventh in the world, was surprised that an American was yet to win the Race to Dubai but then said that it spoke of the quality field that the European Tour has.

“I am surprised. But that shows the greatness of golf out here,” he said.

Morikawa will tee off with two-time Race to Dubai champion Lee Westwood at 12.35 p.m.

james@khaleejtimes.com


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