Rolex Series

DP World Tour Championship: End-of-season debrief with Ali Whitaker and Anthony Wall

It has been another memorable season on the DP World Tour, which ends this week with the 15th edition of the DP World Tour Championship – the fifth and final Rolex Series event of 2023.

From Rory McIlroy winning twice on the Rolex Series to help seal a fifth Race to Dubai title, to a host of first-time winners and the emotion of those battling for their card, there has been drama aplenty.

Now the campaign is drawing to a close, we spoke with Ali Whitaker and Anthony Wall to gather their reflections and insight in an end-of-season commentator’s debrief.

Such is the stature of the event and the high regard the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates holds, all top 50 players on the Rankings are in action this week.

But for a player who has already achieved so much in the game, what has helped the World Number Two win twice on the Rolex Series and impress again on the Major Championship stage?

For two-time DP World Tour winner Wall, McIlroy's experience has come to the fore on the big occasions.

"In the early days he was naturally brilliant. Now, as he has got older, he has matured," Wall said.

"Changing things technically isn't necessarily what he needs. I think he has learned where he needs to be when it matters most. Whereas before I think he was always looking for certain things.

"Well, now I think he's happy with what he's got and he just refines it.

"To have had those two experiences of coming out on top at both the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and Genesis Scottish Open will have given him a lot of confidence.

"So, hopefully when he is playing against the world's best at Augusta next year, things like that will stand him in good stand and he will be able to draw on it."

Whitaker too was impressed by the fashion of McIlroy's back-to-back Rolex Series win - something not achieved before - but pointed to his career-best showing at a Ryder Cup as a sign of just how strong a year the Northern Irishman has enjoyed.

"After what happened at Whistling Straits and how much he felt like he'd let the team down, to go and win four points, the most he's ever won in any Ryder Cup, and to play the role that he so desperately wanted to under immense pressure was the icing on the cake of what otherwise would still have been a fabulous year," she said.

Ahead of the 45th and final event of the 2023 season in Dubai, the DP World Tour has crowned 17 first time winners from nine different countries.

But who do our commentary duo believe has been the breakthrough star this season?

For Wall, it is England's Dan Bradbury who has particularly stood out.

He said: "Bradbury reminds me of Shane Lowry, the confidence he plays with.

"He just has something which is impressive. There's a presence and awe about him. He looks like he's got a real inner confidence. He's got a big game and he'll go far."

Whitaker opted for Swedish sensation Ludvig Åberg, who became the first player ever to play in a Ryder Cup before teeing it up in a Major.

"From a human side, I've been really impressed with how easily he's made his way and settled into the ecosystem of world golf.

"He's done it with a load of humility, perhaps more so than any of us were anticipating.

"I don't think anyone could have envisioned how quickly he has settled into the professional game."

Ludvig Åberg

When it comes to a player who has made the biggest strides in their game, Whitaker and Wall both picked out Englishmen in Matt Baldwin and Dan Brown respectively.

Whitaker said: "So many players can have great careers and never win so for Baldwin to go out and absolutely blitz the field to win the SDC Championship by seven shots for his first ever DP World Tour victory was a really lovely story of the year."

Meanwhile, Wall said of Brown, who just made it into this week's field for the season finale at 50th on the Rankings: "I know he rededicated himself through covid and now you can see the benefit of all that work and the talent that he has."

But what of their favourite moment of the season?

"Mine would probably be Jon Rahm's performance on the opening day of the Ryder Cup," Wall said.

"He was in the opening match and to put in that performance, alongside Tyrrell Hatton, was massive and brilliant to watch.

"He knew how important it was to stop red going on the board early on."

Whereas, Whitaker takes us back to Race to Dubai winner McIlroy's performance at the Genesis Scottish Open when he went birdie-birdie over the final two holes to dramatically deny home favourite Robert MacIntyre.

"I don't think we really could have written at the start of the week that it would MacIntyre hit the shot of his life into 18 to try and take the title and then to see Rory hit what I thought was arguably a better approach in order to beat him," she said.

"To see Bob kind of step up to the plate in the lead up to the Ryder Cup was really important for the European Ryder Cup team."

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