Francesco Molinari carried forward his scintillating Match Play form from last year’s Ryder Cup, where he won five points from five matches, and rode it to third place at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play to finish as the highest-placed European Tour player.
The Italian defeated Lucas Bjerregaard in the third place play-off match to catapult 99 spots from 113th to 14th in the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex after earning 565 points.
The Italian looked the likeliest winner of the tournament as it got to the latter stages but was eliminated in dramatic fashion in the semi-final by eventual winner Kevin Kisner on their final hole before beating Bjerregaard.
The Dane, who finished 13th in last year’s Race to Dubai, showed heroic form in his WGC Match Play debut, defeating the likes of two-time DP World Tour Championship winner Henrik Stenson and childhood hero Tiger Woods before losing out to Matt Kuchar in the semi-final. This result has helped the 27-year-old surge up to 20th from 115th in the Race to Dubai as he looks to compete in his third season-ending DP World Tour Championship in succession at Jumeirah Golf Estates later this year.
Louis Oosthuizen is on the cusp of the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings after finishing fifth and earning 298 Race to Dubai points to rise from 8th to 2nd– with current leader Shane Lowry firmly in his sights only 183.5 points ahead. 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia also finished in fifth after losing to Kuchar in the quarter-finals to climb up to ninth place from 17th in the rankings.
Meanwhile, the Hero Indian Open was played alongside the WGC event and there was an emotional first win in five years for Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, which propelled him from 259th to 26th in the Race to Dubai. The 44-year-old, who had his 18-year-old son Jack as his caddy, bounced back from a quadruple bogey with five birdies on the back nine for a closing 71 on the demanding Gary Player-designed DLF Golf and Country Club to beat Masahiro Kawamura by a single shot.
The Japanese runner-up, who has been impressive in his rookie season on the European Tour, rose from 61st to 24th in the Race to Dubai as he looks to make his DP World Tour Championship debut in November where the top 50 players in the rankings will compete for a first prize of US $3 million.
Jorge Campillo came close yet again to winning his first European Tour title after finishing two shots behind Gallacher in third spot. This is the third time in the last month that the consistent Spaniard has finished in the top three, which has helped him climb from 27th to 17th in the Race to Dubai.
Lowry is still leading the Race to Dubai with Oosthuizen in second, Justin Harding third, Ian Poulter fourth and Kurt Kitayama in fifth, but there could be a huge shift in the order with the first Major Championship of the season, the Masters Tournament, up next in the schedule.
The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings will contest the season-ending US $8million DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 21-24 where US $3 million will be up for grabs for the winner, making it the richest first prize in world golf.