The season-ending DP World Tour Championship has finally arrived. For the first time in a while, I’m previewing an event where course form is a huge factor. Since this event has had two editions under its belt, every winner has previously managed at least a Top 10.
The Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, UAE has hosted this event since its inaugural playing in 2009. At 7,675 yards, this Par 72 has almost always given us a winner that can drive the ball a good distance. In fact, only one winner of this event finished the week worse than 8th in Driving Distance. That was Robert Karlsson. He finished 59th. Of 59. So there are ways to get around it but for the most part, long drivers are favoured.
Greens in Regulation and Putts Per GIR have been the statistical categories in which the winners have performed best. Sort of easy to predict who’s going to win here. Basically, you need to drive it long, hit the greens and make the putts. Simple enough.
The Race to Dubai is fairly open heading into the final week. Stenson is in control but Noren and Willett still have a good chance of winning. McIlroy needs a rather unlikely scenario to unfold but he can still technically win.
I’d be fairly confident saying that any player without a Top 10 at the Earth Course of Jumeirah will not be winning this week. Some of them will surely go well but winning seems like a push. That immediately rules out over half of the field. When you look at former winners, five of the seven were ranked in the OWGR Top 5. If that is, once again, the case then we will be seeing either Rory McIlroy or Henrik Stenson lift the trophy on Sunday for the fifth consecutive year.
Alex Noren is the third favourite behind those two and it’s not hard to see why. The Swede has been sensational, winning four times in his last eleven starts. It seems odd but if Noren had shot 72 yesterday and finished T8 then I would probably be backing him here at a very nice price. Alas, he shot 63, his price still seems very fair but his play the week after winning this year (there’s been a lot of it) has been largely poor.
If you’d told me last week that I’d be going into the final event of the season and this would be my only bet, I would’ve been incredibly sceptical. Victor Dubuisson at 70/1 is an incredible bet though. I hope. The Frenchman has had a year to forget but one week may change that. The Nedbank last week saw the Dubuisson of old show up and get a decent paycheck for the first time in a long time.
Ranking 6th in Driving Distance, 4th in Greens in Regulation and 8th in Putts Per GIR, it’s very easy to see why Dubuisson is appealing this week. The 26-year-old’s two wins both came in the Race to Dubai Final Series. With excellent course form and restored confidence, Victor Dubuisson may well be the man to beat this week.
The 70/1 about Victor Dubuisson has shrivelled and disappeared. Any value that was there is now probably gone but there’s one man that still interests me. I considered including him in my original preview but I wasn’t certain. With Dubuisson’s price rapidly falling, I decided against it.
Ultimately, I concluded that the price was very fair and I’d gain nothing by leaving him out. Jeunghun Wang (100/1) once again seems a prudent bet at a three-figure price. I mentioned it last week, for a shorter hitter, the 21-year-old has played incredibly on longer courses. On the European Tour in 2016, Wang has recorded two wins and a runner-up finish in four starts on courses measuring 7,400 yards or more.
Granted, his final round last week wasn’t the most impressive of his career but he would’ve needed something very special to beat Alex Noren anyway. Wang still managed to beat Louis Oosthuizen, Henrik Stenson, Andy Sullivan and a host of other top players. There’s no question now. He can hang with the best of the best. On another long course, in a small field, I just wonder if Wang can provide one more shock to finish off the season.