Rory McIlroy was not the only Race to Dubai champion with cause to celebrate after the DP World Tour Championship on the Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course as it also heralded the coronation of our latest season-long Fantasy winner.
Some 8,000 kilometres away in the Irish city of Cork Laura Kennedy, 31, was in disbelief at having just finished at the summit of the game, and as a result, will be Dubai bound in 2013 to take in the same tournament that had just sealed her victory.
Kennedy’s skills at picking the right players through the season have won her a fantastic VIP trip the DP World Tour Championship at the conclusion of the 2013 Race to Dubai, including two business class flights to Dubai, a stay in a luxury Dubai hotel, hospitality package during the DP World Tour Championship, the opportunity to play the Earth Course in the Sponsors’ day on the Monday after the tournament with a new set of Titleist irons and a bag, and signed memorabilia from the winner of the 2012 Race to Dubai, Rory McIlroy.
“I am absolutely over the moon,” said a delighted Fantasy Race to Dubai number one. “It’s a great, but surreal, feeling to have been working on this for ten months and then find out that I’ve won.
“I have never been to Dubai but it has been one of my top destinations to go to so it’s a total dream come true and I can’t wait.”
It’s a long, hard season for the players on Tour, as well as our fantasy competitors, and clearly to win this kind of competition you have to be on your game from the very start, and having done that, the nerves really started to kick in for Kennedy just a few weeks ago at the Barclays Singapore Open.
Kennedy said: “At that stage I had held my lead for a couple of weeks and was getting the bug. I had a lead of some €500,000 which seemed like a lot, but when Matteo Manassero won it was wiped out.
“It was a real eye opener and I knew that I needed a lot of decisions to go my way if I was going to be successful.”
Wise words, and very true in a game as unpredictable as golf, but as it turned out the teams Kennedy picked over the closing weeks of the season were just the ticket, meaning by the time the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai was over Kennedy had managed to include four of the top five on the leaderboard, and therefore ensuring an €87,252 margin of victory over the runner-up who, alongside those down to fifth place, also received a brand new set of Titleist clubs.
“This weekend (DP World Tour Championship) the nerves were really there from the start,” explained our victor. “When picking the team I knew I had to leave some key players out because I just didn’t have enough picks and there was always a danger that my choices would go against me.
“The real nervy point came when Charl Schwartzel took a lead on Saturday and I knew if this stayed the case, or even if he went into second, I would be overtaken (as he was not in her team).”
But it all worked out well in the end for our buyer for a supermarket group in Ireland, and having originally signed up to the game as a way of challenging her then fiancée back in 2011, this season’s contest eventually saw Kennedy conquer all.
There were some key moments throughout the year for her, like back at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March where she picked champion Justin Rose and finished fourth on that week’s standings as a result.
Then there was Ernie Els’ Open Championship triumph, and Branden Grace’s win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which elevated her to the top of the overall standings for the first time.
Then Peter Hanson’s win at the BMW Masters, when Kennedy was the only one in the top ten to have picked him that week, was when she really took advantage of her competition.
And now, having played and won the 2012 Fantasy Race to Dubai, there is no doubt in Kennedy’s mind that it is a great way of spicing up The European Tour action for anyone.
“I would recommend it for sure to any European Tour fan, but I would also have no hesitation in recommending it to non-Tour fans,” said Kennedy. “I don’t play golf myself, and started using it to have something in common with my husband and it very quickly became our thing.
“It turned out to be great fun. I thought at the start you needed to be a player to do well but that is not the case. Of course you need to follow it, but it is something that anyone could find themselves getting into.”
And if you do find yourself tempted by our 2012 success story then Kennedy has a little advice for you.
“In the main I think you need to pick players with form, but I would however say that it is really important to pick one or two outsiders as well.
“If you can have any differences in your team versus the top teams, and those players perform, then you can see yourself make huge ground very quickly.”
So to sum up, with dedication and a little bit of luck there is much to be won at the end of the Fantasy Race to Dubai, so make sure you stay tuned to europeantour.com in the coming weeks for details of next season’s game which will kick off with the Desert Swing in 2013.
But watch out, as Laura Kennedy has no plans to rest on her laurels and when asked if she would be defending her title next year she was adamant in her response: