The 2023 DP World Tour season wrapped in dramatic fashion as a new Rolex Series winner was crowned at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Here is everything you need to know from the DP World Tour Championship.
Nicolai Højgaard signs off season in style
Nicolai Højgaard claimed his first Rolex Series title after mounting a back-nine charge to win the 15th edition of the DP World Tour Championship.
The Dane entered the final day three shots off the lead after a bogey-bogey finish to his third round but came good down the stretch with five birdies in the final six holes on Sunday.
It is a third DP World Tour title for Højgaard at the age of 22, having previously lifted the trophy at the Italian Open in 2021 and Ras Al Khaimah Championship in 2022.
Højgaard cut a despondent expression after missing a short birdie putt on the final green but his victory was confirmed shortly later when neither 54-hole leader Matt Wallace or Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland could register an eagle at the par-five closing hole.
The victory – the third for a Danish player this season following his brother Rasmus and Thorbjørn Olesen – lifts him to second on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex and a career-high 50th on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Following his victory at the Earth course, Højgaard said: “This feels amazing. This one is for family. Everything they put in over the years, there's so much hard work going into this. For it to happen like this is unbelievable.”
In added bonus, the Dane, who climbed eight spots on the Rankings, received US$ 1.2m from the $6m Race to Dubai bonus pool shared between the top eight finishers on the Rankings.
McIlroy leaves Dubai with fifth Race to Dubai title
For the fifth time in his career, Rory McIlroy ends the season on the DP World Tour as Europe’s Number One.
While it wasn’t his week, the four-time Major winner will take lots of solace from his performances during a stellar 2023 that saw him win twice on the Rolex Series, including for the first time.
In his first competitive appearance since his Ryder Cup heroics six weeks ago, McIlroy was unable to produce his best as he finished in a tie for 22nd.
After a sluggish first two rounds, he followed a seven under 65 on Saturday with a closing 70 to finish at ten under.
With just six-time winner Seve Ballesteros and record eight-time season-long winner Colin Montgomerie ahead of him on the all-time list of Harry Vardon Trophy winners, focus has already turned to his pursuit of chasing both down.
“I think I've still got a good eight to ten years left in me where I can play at the top, top level,” he said.
“I'd like to think that I'm going to challenge, at least try to get past Seve and then sort of try to get past Monty as well. It's certainly a goal of mine for the rest of my career to do something like that. It would mean a lot to me.”
Dual membership awaits
As part of the Strategic Alliance between the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR, a direct and formal pathway was established for players to earn dual membership status.
For the first time, the top 10 players in the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai Rankings who were not otherwise exempt earned PGA TOUR cards: Adrian Meronk, Ryan Fox, Victor Perez, Thorbjørn Olesen, Alexander Björk, Sami Valimaki, Robert MacIntyre, Matthieu Pavon, Jorge Campillo and Ryo Hisatsune.
These 10 players are eligible for PGA TOUR membership for the 2024 season.
As the leading finisher among the top ten, Meronk, a three-time DP World Tour winner this season, will also be exempt into THE PLAYERS Championship and the Charles Schwab Challenge in 2024, while also being exempt from re-ranks on the PGA TOUR.
Having gained some experience of playing Stateside earlier in the year, Meronk is excited to continue his career development on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Each year I'm progressing my golf, result, scoring average, confidence,” the Pole said.
“It's very pleasing to be honest. Hopefully I can keep going forward and keep moving in the right direction and keep improving. But I'm very proud of this season and everything I've done.”
Hillier ends season as leading Challenge Tour graduate
The DP World Tour celebrated 18 first-time winners during 2023, including four players who graduated from the European Challenge Tour last year.
One of those was New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier, who won his maiden DP World Tour title at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Sir Nick Faldo in July.
Despite competition from Nathan Kimsey and Tom McKibbin – another Challenge Tour graduate winner this year – Hillier secured the honour of finishing as the best of the Class of 2022.
A closing 68 was good enough to see Hillier finish in a tie for 38th on his debut at the DP World Tour Championship and end the campaign 30th in the season-long Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.
Speaking to the DP World Tour ahead of the season climax, the 25-year-old said: “For me it's been a pretty steady progression.
“I haven't been one of those guys that's jumped out of the blocks and been a superstar from day one. But I feel like my game is good enough to compete at the highest level.”
Browne wins G4D season finale to claim second title
The season-ending DP World Tour Championship also coincided with the final event of the 2023 G4D Tour, with the world’s best golfers with a disability on show in Dubai.
With inclement weather resulting in Friday’s play being cancelled, the G4D Tour Season Finale – the eighth event of an expanded campaign – was reduced to 18 holes at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
A one-under-par 71 by England’s Mike Brown proved the winning total as he finished three shots better off than World Number One Kipp Popert, inaugural G4D Open winner Brendan Lawlor and Canada’s Kurtis Barkley.
It was his second G4D Tour title after he claimed his maiden success in Ireland last year.
After his victory on Saturday, the English leg amputee dedicated his win to his late father, who passed away last year.
He added: "You are sharing the course with the greats of modern times, so I feel very privileged and lucky to get this chance.
"Thank you to everyone who has got me to this point."