The Top 10 In The Race To Dubai – How Have They Fared in 2016?
November 01, 2016
The final month of the European Tour is upon us as the first of the Final Series events commences in Turkey on Thursday. We have analysed each player in the top 10 of the current leaderboard and assess their season so far as they aim to finish top of the pile come the end of what has been another enthralling campaign in the golfing hemisphere.
The Swede won his first major title earlier this year in record-breaking style at the Open Championship, finishing on an incredible 20 under par, with his overall score of 264 setting a record for the lowest score in any major championship. This emphatic triumph was inspired by his 10th career win on the European tour at the BMW international Open a month previously in June, although he did suffer heartbreak at the Olympic Games with a bogey putt on the final hole gifting the gold medal to Justin Rose.
In a season of colossal success, Stenson will be hoping to win the Race to Dubai for the second time in his career following his “historic double” in 2013 when he became the first (and only) player to win the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai in the same campaign.
He’s the firm favourite in the Race to Dubai odds, with 10Bet placing him at 2/5.
Willett ruthlessly seized on Jordan Speith’s spectacular meltdown at the Masters as he became the first European in 17 years to win at Augusta and just the 2nd Englishman after Nick Faldo’s win 20 years ago. Born and bred in South Yorkshire, the 29-year-old has enjoyed his finest season to date, with victory in Dubai at the beginning of the year the catalyst for his unpredictable campaign which also included a runner-up placing at the Italian Open.
Sadly for Team Europe, Willett was unable to replicate his early season form in the Ryder Cup as he failed to register a single point from his three matches in the event.
The four-time major winner has been unable to add to his tally in golf’s four most prestigious annual tournaments and despite his best efforts was unable to inspire Europe to glory in the Ryder Cup.
Despite his major drought, McIlroy has still produced his customary moments of brilliance including his sensational finish in his home tournament – the Irish Open. The patriotic home crowd were treated to two of the most exquisite shots of the 27-year-old’s career over the final three holes to land him the title which is hosted by his own foundation.
September’s victory in the Tour Championship for the Irishman gives him the opportunity to targeting the FedEx, Dubai double after clinching the former’s $10m (£7.7m) prize, although he remains over a million points off top spot in the Dubai standings at present.
Three tournament wins this season have catapulted Noren into the top four of the Race to Dubai leaderboard. Even though he may not be the top ranked golfer in Sweden, Noren has enjoyed his most successful season on the European tour to date – compiling victories in Scotland, Switzerland and his most recent coming just a few weeks back at the British Masters in Hertfordshire.
Last month’s stunning four shot triumph in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship saw the 25-year-old land his first victory on the European Tour, as Hatton finished on a stunning 23 under par. Hailing from Buckinghamshire, Hatton was a runner-up in Aberdeen and he also claimed third place in the Omega European Masters two years running in 2014 and 2015.
The only Spaniard to make the list. Cabrera-Bello has twice been a victor on the European Tour, but he has failed to build on the promising start he made to the 2016 campaign which saw him finish 2nd in consecutive tournaments at Qatar and Dubai respectively. Narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal after finishing fifth, but “Rafa” will take heart from his superb performance in the Ryder Cup where he remained unbeaten following his three matches.
The 2010 Open Champion was victorious at the Perth International back in February and he backed this up in March with an impressive showing at the WGC-Dell Match Play where he took the next best prize – only losing out to a dominant Jason Day. Oosthuizen has been a perennial runner-up on the big stage where he has failed to add another major trophy to his collection, but has finished second at a major on three separate occasions.
Shot to fame as an amateur at the 2008 Open Championship and this year made his Ryder Cup bow where he displayed nerves of steel to impressively seal a foursomes win over Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson after he and Justin Rose had threatened to squander a three-hole lead with five to play. Wood lifted the biggest title of his career at the 2016 BMW PGA Championship, where a three under par 69 in the definitive round giving him a one-stroke victory over Rikard Karlberg.
In January, the South African became the first player to successfully defend their Qatar Masters title. This achievement was also Grace’s seventh victory on the European Tour. Four years ago, he enjoyed a season beyond his wildest dreams as he became the first player in the history of the European Tour to win his first four European Tour titles in the same year and in the process landed sixth place in the Race to Dubai.
With two top-five finishes in majors in 2016 and a first PGA Tour victory at the RBC Heritage in April, Grace has again established himself as a serious contender for golf’s greatest honours.
“Westy” remains one of the finest players without a major championship victory within his collection. The former World Number One was joint runner-up at the Masters, but his campaign has been a tale of ‘so near, yet so far’ with the 43-year-old unable to get over the line from some promising situations.
This was highlighted in his Ryder Cup singles when he somehow contrived to lose out to Ryan Moore on the 18th despite being two up with three to play.
Westwood now holds the unwanted record of having made the most major championship appearances (73) without tasting success. The waiting goes on.