As I predicted, Rory McIlroy suffered a major emotional letdown last week in Hong Kong after winning the European Tour’s money list title the week before in Singapore. McIlroy missed the cut at the UBS Hong Kong Open after rounds of 73-72. You could see that coming in the way McIlroy was talking leading into the event. McIlroy missing the Top 10 paid out at a nice +155.
My choice to win was England’s Simon Dyson, and he finished T19. The winner was Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, the assistant captain on this year’s European Ryder Cup team. At 48 years and 318 days, he became the oldest winner in European Tour history. He really likes Hong Kong as it’s his third Tour win there. Six players at the age of 40 have now won on the Euro Tour this year.
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The European season concludes this week as the big-money Dubai World Championship, and for the first time since the Race to Dubai was unveiled in 2009 there’s not much drama with McIlroy already holding the money title. He will end the year as the world No. 1 regardless of where he finishes this week. Don’t expect to see Rory as much next year as he’s going to cut back on his schedule a bit on both Tours (he played a combined 24 tournaments in 2012, plus the Ryder Cup and two exhibition events), but he said he plans to defend his Euro money title.
He does have some motivation this week. A win would allow McIlroy to pass Tiger Woods as the all-time leading money earner in a single season. Woods amassed a combined PGA and European Tour earning of $11,557,729 in 2007. A victory for McIlroy would put him $395,857 ahead of Woods. McIlroy gets $1 million by just teeing up in Dubai -- the first prize for capturing the Race to Dubai.
Luke Donald, who won both money tours last year, won last week in Japan to jump Tiger for No. 2 in the world, but Donald won’t be catching McIlroy before 2013. Donald hasn't been No. 1 since Aug. 5, when McIlroy took the top spot the following week with his eight-shot win at the PGA Championship. This is the final time those two will play before the New Year – which will be the case with most top Euros. The Top 57 on the European money list are in this field, including every member of the European Ryder Cup team. There is not a single American.
The defending champion is Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, who made a 40-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole for a two-shot victory over Paul Lawrie. Quiros, who had a final-round 5-under 67 on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, didn’t qualify this year.
Golf Odds: Dubai World Championship Favorites
McIlroy is the 11/2 favorite at Bovada and has good history here in Dubai. He won his first European Tour title at the 2009 Omega Dubai Desert Classic and finished third (2009), fifth (2010) and tied 11th (2011) in the three editions of this tournament.
Donald, who has suggested some change to the Race to Dubai format to ensure that no one can clinch until the final tournament (much like the FedEx Cup mathematically gives all 30 players a chance at the Tour Championship), is the 9/1 second-favorite with Louis Oosthuizen. Donald was third last year at this event and T9 the year before. Oosthuizen is one of a handful of multiple tournament winners on the Euro Tour this year. He hasn’t finished worst than sixth in his past three events and was runner-up a few weeks ago in Singapore.
Lee Westwood (11/1) and Ian Poulter (12/1) round out the Top 5. Westwood has one win in Europe, but it’s otherwise been a disappointing season. He won the first edition of this event in 2009, was T3 in 2010 and T29 last year. Poulter was the best player at the Ryder Cup and recently won the WGC-HSBC Champions for his first victory of 2012. He just finished runner-up last week in Australia.
Golf Odds: Dubai World Championship Picks
On the Top 5 props, I like “yes” on Oosthuizen (+200) and Donald (+175). “No” on McIlroy (-130), Westwood (-310) and Poulter (-350). Definitely like Donald as the top Englishman at 21/10. Also like a playoff at +250 as the winning margin.
McIlroy isn’t the only guy with monetary motivation this week. Any player who finishes in the Top 10 of the Race to Dubai shares in the $3.75 million bonus pool. Thus, I am going with Scotland’s Pawl Lawrie at 33/1 to win this week. He’s currently 10th in the standings. Lawrie has won twice in Europe this year (once in the Middle East), was T10 in Hong Kong last week and had that runner-up finish in this tournament a year ago. If you want a backup plan, take Peter Hanson at 20/1. He recently won in China and hasn’t finished worse than 13th in this tournament in three visits.
Next week I will preview the silly-season World Challenge in California. It features 11 members of the US Ryder Cup team, including Tiger Woods.
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