golf

A Look Back At The Race To Dubai

November 30, 2016

- Grant Whittington

Those who remained in contention for the Race to Dubai crown were upstaged by England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick who birdied the final hole to see off the challenge of compatriot Tyrrell Hatton in the final event of the season.

Despite finishing five shots adrift of the tournament winner, it was Open champion Henrik Stenson who cemented his place at the summit of the final standings to win the Race to Dubai for a second time following his inaugural success back in 2013.

The Swede has enjoyed a stellar campaign, becoming the first golfer from his nation to lift a major, as well as tasting glory at the BMW International Open in Germany and winning a silver medal in Rio. None of Stenson’s closest rivals could surpass his performance at the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates as he closed the curtain on a fairytale year with a closing 65.

The hopes of defending champion Rory McIlroy overtaking Stenson were entirely dependent on him winning the tournament, but the Irishman could only tie the 40-year-old on a total 12-under par. Stenson was also able to keep fellow countryman Alex Noren at bay along with Danny Willett – the man who caused a sensational shock at the Masters in April.

Both finished behind Stenson with Willett tied 50 at one-under par, whilst Noren was unable to replicate the form that has seen him win four times on the European Tour in 2016 as he finished tied 23rd at eight-under par.

Hatton’s runner-up finish enabled him to overhaul McIlroy and take fourth spot on the final leaderboard as the 25-year-old continues to build on the momentum gained from his crushing victory in October at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – his first success on the European Tour.

Youngster Fitzpatrick has also revelled in an incredible campaign by claiming the biggest win of his career in Dubai as well as representing Europe in the Ryder Cup, all within two years of turning professional. The 22-year-old also had the added windfall of rising into the top 10 of the Race to Dubai to claim his share of the $5million bonus pot.

On the other hand, it has been a season to forget for McIlroy having failed to add to his four majors and unable to inspire his team-mates to an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ryder Cup success.

His withdrawal from the Turkish Airlines Open at the start of November more or less exterminated his chances of winning the Race to Dubai title for a fourth time in five years, with the current world number two effectively admitting defeat going into the DP World Tour Championship.

Willett had been the frontrunner for the majority of the season, but his Jekyll and Hyde displays since Augusta allowed Stenson to leapfrog him at the end of October. Even though he described his season as tempestuous and “turbulent“, it should not detract from his meteoric rise to the top of world golf.

Ultimately the year 2016 belongs to Stenson who also nailed three other top two finishes to establish himself as the leading golfer on the European Tour. Stenson has been the model of consistency, the epitome of reliability – his order of merit victory the crowning glory on a season he rightly hailed as the best of his career.

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