Out of the Rough: DP World Tour Championship (2023)
The DP World Tour’s season is coming to an end as it heads to Dubai for its season finale.
Traditionally, this event draws a star-studded field as it consists of the top 50 golfers with the Race to Dubai standings and this year is no different.
This event was first staged 14 years ago when the DP World Tour emulated the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup with its own version - the Race to Dubai.
The DP World Tour Championship is the fifth and final event of the Rolex Series and usually, the winner of the season-long battle is determined at this event.
That won’t be the case this week however as Rory McIlroy has already claimed his fifth Harry Vardon Trophy.
This is a limited field event as just the top 50 within the Race to Dubai standings received an invite and for the first time in some time, each of the top 50 will be teeing it up this week.
As previously mentioned, McIlroy has already claimed the Race to Dubai and whatever happens this week, he cannot be dethroned.
Rory, a two-time winner of this event (2012 and 2015) will be joined by several of the world’s best this week.
Along with McIlroy, Jon Rahm will be in attendance as the defending champion as he looks to claim his fourth DP World Tour victory.
Rahm has won this event three times previously (2017, 2019 and 2022.)
Matt Fitzpatrick is another multi-time DP World Tour Championship winner (2016 and 2020) that will be playing this week. Fitzpatrick also won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship back in early October.
Along with the names listed above, the likes of Viktor Hovland, Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Min Woo Lee, Tom Kim, Nicolai Hojgaard, Adrian Meronk, Shane Lowry, Rasmus Hojgaard and Ryan Fox round out the star-studded field we will be seeing this week.
The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, UAE has been the host of this event since its inception in 2009.
It plays as a Par-72 at 7,706 yards.
The Earth Course is a Greg Norman design that is best described as a long typical desert track.
As displayed in the course’s scorecard yardage, it is a long course where distance off the tee is favored over accuracy. The fairways are also rather generous.
Statistically speaking, in the 14 previous installments of this event, 16th is the worst any winner has ranked in average driving distance within the field.
Although distance is much more important than accuracy, golfers can’t be completely wild off the tee. Over the years as the course has matured, missing the fairways has become slightly penal.
There are also 99 sand bunkers littered throughout the course and water is in play on holes six, 14, 16, 17 and multiple times on 18.
The greens are made up of a Tifeagle Bermuda. They are large in size and undulating with plenty of run-off areas. They typically run at 12 on the Stimpmeter.
The finishing holes here at the Earth Course offer a stunning finish that has the potential to produce drama down the stretch.
The par three 17th features an island green and the par five 18th has water in play twice if a golfer goes for the green and three times if they opt to lay-up.
This makes the 18th hole a rather intriguing hole where scores can vary greatly. In 2017 the 18th played as the easiest hole on the entire course but ranked as the fourth easiest a year ago.
It is also worth noting that getting off to a good start this week is a must. Rahm was tied for 14th and five off the lead with a two-under-par 70 in round one a year ago. That was the furthest anyone started the week back to go on and win.
Every other winner has started with a round in the 60s and this course is definitely a frontrunner’s track.
The first seven winners and 11-of-the-14 to date opened with a round of 68 or better and were within the top six places after the first day.
As of the time of writing this, there is a 70-percent chance of precipitation on Friday as the rest of the week calls for a ten-percent chance. Temperatures will range from 84-degrees at the lowest on Saturday and 90 degrees as the highest on Thursday. Winds will be at the highest on Thursday at 16 miles-per-hour before falling to 11 miles-per-hour across the last three days.
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Average Driving Distance
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Greens in Regulations Percentage (GIR%)
Par 5 Average Scoring
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Sand Saves Percentage
Tyrrell Hatton (+1200)
Being a 50 man field and being extremely top heavy with the PGA Tour stars, I’m going with a small three man card. Leading that charge is Tyrrell Hatton. Hatton, on the PGA Tour, is currently seventh in SG: PUTT, 13th in SG: OTT, 18th in scrambling, 31st in SG: APP, 47th in average driving distance, 63rd in SG: ATG, 67th in par five average scoring, 89th in sand saves percentage and 110th in GIR%. Hatton last played at the BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour back in September where he placed T2nd. He also was of course part of Team Europe’s Ryder Cup winning team. I couldn’t get myself to bet the extremely short odds of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm or Viktor Hovland this week. I’ll take the consultation price in Hatton though. I’m playing two units on him this week.
Min Woo Lee (+1800)
I’m really excited about Lee this week. He last played on the PGA Tour at the ZOZO Championship where he placed T6th roughly three weeks ago. He also placed T7th at the Horizon Irish Open and T14th at the BMW PGA Championship on the DP World Tour recently as well. Lee is currently fifth on the DP World Tour in all three of average driving distance, scrambling and sand saves percentage. He is also 13th in SG: PUTT, 14th in SG: OTT, 24th in SG: ATG, 37th in par five average scoring, 45th in SG: APP and 46th in GIR%. In other words, he’s elite or above average in each of the nine statistical categories I took into consideration this week. I’m playing two units on Lee this week.
Nicolai Hojgaard (+2500)
If you’re a listener of the Out of the Rough Podcast on the We Know Fantasy Podcast Network you would know I named Hojgaard as one of the breakout candidates of the PGA Tour for 2024 and what better way to start that than with a victory here at the DP World Tour Championship. He is currently fourth on the PGA Tour in average driving distance, 27th in par five average scoring, 36th in GIR%, 39th in sand saves percentage, 43rd in SG: APP, 110th in SG: ATG, 113th in SG: OTT, 144th in scrambling and 148th in SG: PUTT. However, on the DP World Tour this season he putted to a season long average of 0.11 strokes gained on the greens and scrambled to the tune of 57.72-percent. Not great but not awful. Better than what his PGA Tour stats suggest. He’s also fresh off a second place finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge a week ago. I’m also playing two units on him this week.