As the 2012 Race to Dubai passes the halfway stage, England’s Justin Rose leads the way in his bid for a second Harry Vardon Trophy while, elsewhere, youth has the edge over experience in the victory count.
Rose tops the Race to Dubai with €1,765,132, ahead of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, and the WGC – Cadillac Champion has his sights set on regaining the title of European Number One he last held five years ago in 2007 as well as qualifying for the European Team for The Ryder Cup, adding the ALSTOM Open de France to his schedule in an attempt to consolidate both positions.
After finishing joint 21st at the US Open Championship last weekend, he said: “I haven’t played the French Open in recent seasons, but I’ve added it to my schedule because it’s Ryder Cup year, and I’m obviously desperate to be on that plane to Chicago. I think I’m pretty much in the Team already due to my position in the World Ranking, because it’s fairly unlikely I can be overtaken by enough guys to push me out of qualification. But it’d be nice to guarantee my place, and if I can keep playing like I have been recently, hopefully I can do that sooner rather than later.
“I’ve also got winning The Race to Dubai to focus on now, thanks mainly to my win at Doral. Those WGC events cross over nicely on both Tours, so if I can play well in them and the Majors and then pick up some decent prize money when I play in Europe, with a bit of luck I’ll book my place in The Ryder Cup and give it a really good run in The Race to Dubai too.
“So it’s an exciting summer coming up, and I’m feeling really upbeat about the state of my game from tee to green, because I’m striking the ball as well as I’ve ever done. If I can just get a few more putts to drop, we’ll be cooking on gas.”
Of the 24 events played so far on The European Tour International Schedule comprising 47 tournaments, 14 have been won by players in the 20s, compared to eight in their 30s and just two in their 40s.
The youngest of these is Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, aged 22 years and 102 days when he won his maiden title at the Sicilian Open - 21 years younger than the season’s oldest champion Paul Lawrie, winner of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy at the age of 43 years and 35 days.
Olesen is also one of eight first time winners on The 2012 Race to Dubai, with two Challenge Tour graduates and one Qualifying School graduate among their number, a figure which compares with 11 first time winners through the whole of the 2011 season.
The strength in depth of The European Tour is also highlighted by the fact there have been 21 different winners this year with only two multiple winners – Branden Grace (Joburg Open, Volvo Golf Champions and Volvo China Open) and Louis Oosthuizen (Africa Open and Maybank Malaysian Open). There were 11 multiple winners during the last campaign.
Players from 13 different nationalities have entered the winners’ circle so far with South Africa collecting the biggest haul of titles with seven, followed by England with four and the USA with three while Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and Thailand are all on the medal table with one win each.
The fact that Portugal is on the list is certainly worthy of note as Ricardo Santos, the lone rookie to have won this year, is only the second Portuguese winner in the history of The European Tour, and the first to win on home soil after his moment of glory on the island of Madeira.
As The Race to Dubai intensifies over the next few weeks, with a terrific run of events leading up to The Open Championship, Ryder Cup qualification and jockeying for position in the top 60 to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai are going to be high on everyone’s agenda. The younger generation have thrown down the gauntlet, so will the established stars will bring their experience to bear over the next 23 events?
Number of different winners – 21.
Number of multiple winners – 2.
Branden Grace (Joburg Open, Volvo Golf Champions and Volvo China Open) and Louis Oosthuizen (Africa Open and Maybank Malaysian Open).
Number of different countries to win – 13.
South Africa 7 - (Grace 3, Oosthuizen 2, Jbe Kruger and Darren Fichardt, both 1).
England 4 – (Robert Rock, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, all 1).
USA 3 – (Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, all 1).
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and Thailand. All have one win each.
Oldest winner – Paul Lawrie, aged 43 years and 35 days at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy.
Youngest winner – Thorbjrn Olesen – 22 years and 102 days at the Sicilian Open.
There have been 14 wins by players in their 20s, 8 in their 30s and 2 in their 40s.
First-time winners: 8
Branden Grace (Joburg Open)
Jbe Kruger (Avantha Masters)
Julien Quesne (Open de Andalucia Costa del Sol)
Thorbjrn Olesen (Sicilian Open)
Bubba Watson (Masters Tournament)
Bernd Wiesberger (Ballantine’s Championship)
Ricardo Santos (Madeira Islands Open – Portugal). (Only second Portuguese to win on The European Tour and first on home soil)
Webb Simpson (US Open Championship)
2011 Challenge Tour graduates to win: 2
Julien Quesne (Open de Andalucia Costa del Sol) and Ricardo Santos (Madeira Islands Open – Portugal).
Rookies to win:
Santos is the only rookie to win so far this season.
2011 Qualifying School graduates to win: 2
Branden Grace (Joburg Open, Volvo Golf Champions and Volvo China Open) and Darren Fichardt (SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC).
Grace is only the second player, following Johan Edfors in 2007 to win three times the year after graduation. Grace is also the first Qualifying School graduate to win back-to-back events the year after graduation. They were (Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Champions).
Players to successfully defend titles: 2
Louis Oosthuizen (2011-2012 Africa Open) and Luke Donald (2011-2012 BMW PGA Championship).
16 holes-in-one, 4 albatrosses and 2 play-offs.
Low 18 hole score – 61 (-11) Jamie Donaldson (Trophée Hassan II).
Low 72 hole winning score – 265 (-23) Louis Oosthuizen (Africa Open).
Low 36 hole cut in relation to par – 141 (-5) Africa Open.
Largest winning margin – 5 shots – Bernd Wiesberger (Ballantine’s Championship) and Lee Westwood (Nordea Masters).
Most top 5 finishes – 5 Peter Hanson
Most top 10 finishes – 7 Nicolas Colsaerts.