Freshened Up Westwood Can Go Well
The Race to Dubai comes to a conclusion this week, when the DP World Tour Championship takes place at the Jumeriah Golf Estates, Dubai. The 7,675 yd Par 72 Earth Course, which was designed by Greg Norman, and opened in 2009 specifically for the inaugural playing of this event, is certainly a long track, with fairly generous fairways and large undulating greens. The course is protected by penal bunkering and numerous water hazards, particularly on the Par 3 17th hole, which has an island green. The forecast for the four days is hot and sunny, with only light breezes, so expect another low scoring renewal.
To be honest the Race to Dubai has been rather a damp squib, with Rory McIlroy looking the winner of the money list for months. Whilst it’s contemporary in the USA has the FedEx series, which through a few tweaks over the years has kept their money list fairly exciting right through to the last event in September, the Race to Dubai suffers from a lack of focus and genuine involvement from players and fans. Whoever the new Chief Executive of the European tour is needs to really to step up to the mark to add some dynamism to the European Tour.
I said a few weeks ago that Brooks Koepka was a certain future winner, and he trotted up last week, though Ian Poulter gave him every assistance by producing a terrible third round. This course suits the big hitters, and all of the winners of this event have been able to get the ball out there. Lee Westwood is a past winner of this event, and finished 8th in Turkey last week. He’s no longer the player who wins multi events in a season, but he’s relatively fresh coming into this event and he’s always feels at home on the big stage.
Whilst not one of the biggest hitters, I quite like the chances of Stephen Gallacher to have a decent week. It was a shame to see him struggle in his home Ryder Cup, but he has started to regain his confidence again and has looked much more like his old self. His long game looked in fine shape last week in Turkey, and if he can add a hot putter to his game he has every chance. It’s also an added bonus that he has a liking for this part of the world, and prospers in hot conditions.
At 6/1, a lumpy bet on Rory would have been advised, but he’s played limited golf due to preparing for his court case, and it has to be taking on trust that he will be revved up fully for this event.