The 2013 European Tour season will reach a spectacular finale this week, with the closest Race to Dubai since the contest’s inception five years ago set to go right down to the wire in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson holds a 213,648 point advantage over Englishman Justin Rose, with as many as nine players still mathematically able to finish the season as Europe’s Number One player.
That means after 45 tournaments in 25 different countries so far this year, it will all come down to how the hopefuls fare over the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Despite struggling with a wrist injury for the duration of the Final Series, former Dubai resident Stenson remains the man to catch following his share of seventh place in last week’s Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“I was happy with a top ten last week which means I've still got the lead heading to Dubai," said Stenson. "I just need to give my wrist some rest. My preparation is going to be less than I would have liked, but I've played Jumeirah Golf Estates so many times so hopefully it won't have too negative an effect."
After finishing fifth in the WGC-HSBC Champions and tied third in Turkey last week, US Open Champion Rose is arguably the form player in the field, and he will take further confidence in his quest to catch Stenson from his runner-up finish in last year’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
“All I wanted really wanted was to go into Dubai with a chance and knowing it's in my own hands,” said Rose. “That is the way it is and so I’m looking forward to the week ahead.”
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, who returns to action after finishing third in the WGC-HSBC Champions, is third on The Race to Dubai, with Ian Poulter fourth after back-to-back top five finishes in the previous two events.
The 2013 European Number One looks likely to come from the leading quartet, which is separated by just 343,906 points, but with an US$8,000,000 prize fund on offer in Dubai, anyone down to Victor Dubuisson in ninth place could still mathematically follow Lee Westwood (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010), Luke Donald (2011) and Rory McIlroy (2012) as winner of The Race to Dubai.
McIlroy sealed the top spot in style 12 months ago by winning the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai by two strokes from Rose, and the former World Number One could be a factor again this week, having shown signs that he is getting back to his best with a share of sixth place in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China a fortnight ago.