Smiting Drives - McDowell and Kaymer set for Dubai shoot-out
22 Nov 2010 - 07:57:48
And so to Dubai, to the Jumeirah Golf Estates, where the fairways are flecked with gold and a cool $15 million is up for grabs.
After 47 tournaments in 26 countries, the globetrotting 'European' Tour is set for a dramatic conclusion as the continent's two reigning major champions fight for the title of Race to Dubai champion, the Harry Vardon trophy and a seven-year Tour exemption.
That and whatever they win in Dubai (prize fund $7.5m) - plus another $1.5m from the $7.5m bonus pool.
Unlike the FedExCup play-offs, there will be no levelling of the playing field before the top 60 players tee off on Thursday. Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell are in first and second place respectively, and one of those will bring it home on Sunday.
As we stand, US PGA Championship winner Kaymer leads McDowell by just shy of 300,000 euros. The Northern Irishman must therefore finish in the top three at the Dubai World Championship to stand any chance of rounding off a stupendous year.
If G-Mac finishes third, he needs Kaymer to come 21st of worse. If he comes home second, he needs Kaymer to be fourth or worse. But if he wins in Dubai, as Lee Westwood did 12 months ago, the title is his.
If McDowell pulls it off he will have achieved a remarkable hat-trick of winning a maiden major at the US Open, sealing victory for Europe at the Ryder Cup and being crowned the European Tour's champion golfer in the space of six months. Not a bad return.
Standing is his way is the German who's won four times in 2010, finished inside the top 10 at the US Open and Open Championship and won a play-off at Whistling Straits to claim a major of his own. That's not forgetting Kaymer's superb Ryder Cup debut alongside McDowell at Celtic Manor.
Kaymer skipped the Hong Kong Open, where McDowell's fifth-placed finish shaved some 76,689 euros off the deficit, so you could argue the German will be fresher heading into the season finale.
But as Hong Kong winner Ian Poulter pointed out yesterday, McDowell has form on his side. Victory at the Andulucia Masters in October had been followed by top-fives in Singapore and Hong Kong and McDowell should have every confidence he can win in Dubai.
If he does, all bets are off for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.