Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a regular contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following piece is excerpted from his blog, Irish Golf Desk.
By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
GRAEME MCDOWELL RECKONS THE Race to Dubai has become a four-way dogfight following Francesco Molinari’s wire-to-wire win in Shanghai. The Ulsterman goes into this week’s megabucks Barclays Singapore Open €531,806 adrift of German ace Martin Kaymer in the battle to become Europe’s No. 1.
But with Molinari seeing off Lee Westwood in the WGC-HSBC Champions to go fourth behind in the world No. 1 in the money list, McDowell knows he’s got a battle on his hands. Disappointed to finish in the pack in the WGC event in China, he’s hoping for better against Kaymer and the in-form Italian in this week’s $6m (€4.3m) battle at Serapong Golf Club.
A poor 34th last week, McDowell groaned: “World Golf Championships are massive events and unfortunately I didn’t take advantage of that with a good week in Shanghai. I hoped to catch Martin a bit more but it wasn’t to be. And with the excellent performances from Francesco and Lee we have a real race on our hands.”
The top four in the Race to Dubai are separated by just €1m with an incredible €11.5m in prize money up for grabs at the last three events in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. The winner of the season-ending Dubai World Championship will take home more than €800,000. But with the runner up set to pocket over €550,000, McDowell knows he will have to cut Kaymer’s half a million euro lead in half over the next two weeks.
GMac said: “There is still a lot of money to play for so anything can happen. All I can do is try and play my best and if that means I still have a shot at winning the Order of Merit, great. I want to get to the Dubai World Championship knowing that if I were to win that tournament I can also win the Race—that’s the chance I want to give myself.”
While Westwood is resting this week, McDowell will be keeping a close eye on playing partner and world No. 14 Molinari. But there are other big fish looking to gobble up the €713,165 top prize with Masters winner Phil Mickelson and defending champion Ian Poulter also teeing it up.
Ireland has 10 men in action with Padraig Harrington gunning for his second win in the space of a month after ending his two-year drought in Malaysia just three weeks ago.
Harrington said: “The form is good. I’m looking to win. If I hole the putts, I’ll be competing on Sunday.”
The Race to Dubai - Top 4
1. Martin Kaymer €3,207,229
2. Graeme McDowell €2,675,423
3. Lee Westwood €2,362,143
4. Francesco Molinari €2,201,614
Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.