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Since it was first played in 2009 the DP World Tour Championship has been a popular conclusion for every DP World Tour season.
Lee Westwood was the first winner and, with a few exceptions, he set the tone - this is an event that tends to be won by one of the classiest players in the field.
Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick are all two-time winners of the title, and last year Collin Morikawa lifted the trophy.
In the last 10 years the only other man to win was Danny Willett which further reveals how elite the honors board is - all of those players have also won major championships.
A sub-plot this week is the race to be crown the leading player for the year. McIlroy leads the rankings and will be chased to the line by Ryan Fox and Fitzpatrick
The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates is a Greg Norman design and it is long.
The card can be pushed out beyond 7,700 yards which might explain why high-quality drivers of the ball tend to win here because missing fairways leaves players with very long approach shots.
An added difficulty is that the greens tend to be elevated making them tricky to hit and it also exaggerates errant blows.
The course description suggests that Rory McIlroy would be a good fit and reality has backed that up.
He was the winner in both 2012 and 2015 and really should have won 12 months ago until he had an unlikely meltdown on the back nine.
In 11 visits he has finished in the top six-eight times and he arrives fresh off a run of two wins in five starts (never finishing outside the top four in that spell).
The course compatibility of Jon Rahm is even more obvious than McIlroy’s.
In the Spaniard’s case he has played the tournament three times, winning on debut in 2017, finishing fourth on defense, and winning again in 2019.
He’s found form late in the season, winning the Open de Espana and he was fourth last time out in the States.
The final two-time tournament winner in the field is Matt Fitzpatrick who did recently lose a playoff in the Italian Open but has generally seen his form drop at the end of a breakthrough year that saw him win the U.S. Open.
A shorter hitter than McIlroy or Rahm he has nonetheless thrived in this final week of the year.
He has five top 10s from his seven visits, adding second place last year to his wins in 2016 and 2020.
It’s been a fine year for Irishman Shane Lowry.
He kicked it off with a run of 13 top 25 finishes in his first 16 starts and quite how he didn’t win one of those events is anyone’s guess.
He played superbly in the Honda Classic, for example, but finished second after a remarkable finish by Sepp Straka and an unlucky burst of torrential rain that hampered Lowry himself.
He also had a good crack in Abu Dhabi and Augusta before very nearly winning the RBC Heritage, again doing very little wrong.
The tide turned with a superb victory in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and he has it in him to complete a prestigious double this week.
He’s been both a first and second-round leader on the Earth Course, he also has five top-12 finishes including a best of second in 2017.
That halfway lead came last year and memories of it might fuel a solid rebound.
Remember how major winners thrive here? He’s the top price of the players with such a tick on the CV.
Take him each way in the outright at +1400 with Caesars Sportbook which pays out six places.
Let’s keep this simple and add the big Spaniard to the staking plan.
Jon Rahm has not only won here twice in three starts, he also has 11 sub-70 scores in 12 circuits.
His adjusted stroke average is fully 1.26 shots per round better than the second-best in the field (McIlroy). That’s five shots per event!
Make him the back-up to Lowry at +500 with FanDuel Sportsbook.
Something about the Earth Course doesn’t seem to agree with Eddie Pepperell.
The obvious answer is length because the Englishman uses a 3-wood from the tee which becomes a problem on such a big layout.
But whatever it is, he’s played five times, has only once been inside the top 50 after 18 holes and has finished better than 48th just once too - when 26th on debut in 2014.
He’s been in a nice run of form for a while but last week needed at least 73 blows in three of his four laps in the Nedbank Challenge.
Take him on with Gavin Green who has finished top 12 in each of his last three starts and hasn’t missed a cut in 11 appearances (there’s no cut this week but it highlights his consistency).
Green has played Earth just once and was only 57th but he opened with a 70 to lie top 10 so it’s not all bad and his long game should suit.
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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