Peter Hanson’s outstanding victory over Rory McIlroy at the BMW Masters in Shanghai last week saw the Swede move to second place in The Race to Dubai to become the World Number One’s closest challenger for the Harry Vardon Trophy with just five events remaining on The 2012 European Tour.
With McIlroy not in action at this week’s WGC – HSBC Champions at Mission Hills Golf Club in southern China, Hanson can further close the gap at the head of the Race which currently stands at €812,572.
Indeed, if the 35 year old can secure a second victory in the space of seven days at Mission Hills, he would win a further €921,375 overtake McIlroy entering The Race to Dubai’s final strait, but the Swede is wary of making such bold predictions against the best player on the planet.
“When you look at the Race to Dubai you always want to be up there but deep down inside me I know Rory is going to be hard to catch,” said Hanson. “I will see how this week goes but it might be that I tee it up in Singapore. That is something I need to think about.
“Last week was of course was a big win for me and moves me closer to Rory. With him not playing this week the rest of us know we are playing for a big purse again and we can apply some pressure on Rory going into Dubai.
“That would be great if I could do that and have a chance of making that top spot. The way Rory is playing at the moment will make it tough, but it keeps it interesting.
“With such a big purse on offer again this week it could be crucial and hopefully I can do well and I’m sure Justin Rose and Branden Grace will be thinking the same.”
Indeed, Rose and Grace, respectively third and fourth in the current standings are both in position to make positive inroads into McIlroy’s lead this week.
Rose, like Hanson, could move to the top of the rankings with a victory at Mission Hills, while a fifth win of the season for Grace would take him to within €428,918 of the 23 year old Northern Irishman.
No matter what happens this week, it looks as though the Race to Dubai could very well come down to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai over the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, where The European Tour’s finest will do battle for a prize fund of US$8 million, with the top ten players at the conclusion of the tournament sharing the Bonus Pool of US$3.75 million.
The top 60 players in The Race to Dubai will qualify for the end of season extravaganza, and while Hanson’s victory in Shanghai was the main talking point of last week, there were some significant moves further down the rankings.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson crept into the qualification places, moving from 65th to 58th after the BMW Masters; while the resurgent Paul Casey made the biggest move of the week after a tie for sixth place at Lake Malaren saw the Englishman climb from 135th to 85th position.