Can Donald hold off McIlory in Dubai?

BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2011 Dubai World Championship | Preview | 07 Dec 2011

The 2011 European Tour comes to a dramatic climax this week when the Dubai World Championship is played at the Greg Norman designed layout at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.

The end of season shootout involves the leading 58 available players from the top 60 of the 2011 Race to Dubai money list with most interest focused on the battle to head the European Tour money race.

The two missing players are Fredrik Jacobson and Justin Rose. Rose is out pending the arrival of his second child while Jacobson has succumbed to injury.

At present Luke Donald has a €790,000 lead over Rory McIlroy but with a first prize of €922,000 available this week then a win by McIlroy and a tie for 9th or worse by Donald would see their final positions on the Race to Dubai reversed and prevent Donald from capturing money list titles on both side of the Atlantic.

It’s mathematically possible but a longshot, although McIlory’s recent form and Donald’s lack of tournament play in recent weeks suggest it is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Not only does the event itself carry a huge overall purse of US$7,500,000 but there are significant bonuses available to the leading 15 players on the money list at the completion of the event, that group dividing another US$7.5 million between them.

McIlory arrives in Dubai off the back of his brilliant come from behind victory at the Hong Kong Open while Donald played his only tournament in the past few weeks when he finished 7th in the restricted field Nedbank Challenge in South Africa last week.

Of course, in a field of this quality, the chances do not stop there with Lee Westwood fresh from his great victory last week at the Nedbank, a resurgent Sergio Garcia, world number four, Martin Kaymer, and defending champion, Robert Karlsson, all considered great chances of upsetting favourites Donald and McIlory.

Garcia has won at each of his last two starts, Kaymer won the HSBC Champions event a month ago and Karlsson showed his readiness to defend when he finished runner-up to Westwood at the Nedbank Challenge last week.

No Australians have made the field, Richard Green the closest to earning a start when he finished the season in 65th position while Marcus Fraser was 68th.

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.


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