Money, pride, trophies and money are still up for grabs as 2011 winds to a finish. (Did we mention money?) GolfChannel.com senior writers Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard debate which event left on the '11 calender they would most like to win.
By RANDALL MELL
Give me the Dubai World Championship title.
Of the events remaining this year, that title is the most prestigious and meaningful.
The European Tour is reveling in another special year, and this is the big finale to the tour’s season-long Race to Dubai competition. With Europeans dominating the top of the world rankings and its tour members raking in majors by the bunch again, it means something special to win one of the European Tour's elite events. The top three players in the world will be there, four of the top six. No. 1 Luke Donald, No. 2 Lee Westwood, No. 3 Rory McIlroy and No. 6 Martin Kaymer will compete together for the first time since the PGA Championship. McIlroy was part of the dominant European Tour showing in majors this year, winning the U.S. Open. Charl Schwartzel (Masters) and Darren Clarke (British Open) are also European Tour members headed to Dubai (Dec. 8-11). So is Sergio Garcia, hot off his back-to-back titles in Spain.
While the PGA Tour’s biggest names didn’t deliver this past year, with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sliding down the world rankings, Europe’s did. Donald, McIlroy, Schwartzel, Kaymer and Westwood rank 1-5 in the Race to Dubai Standings with Garcia No. 7. They’ll lead the 60-player Dubai World Championship field.
It’s a big stage with big stars playing for big money, with about $1.2 million going to the tournament winner and another $1.5 million going to the Race to Dubai champion.
Yeah, the HSBC Champions, the Australian Open, the Nedbank Challenge, the Chevron World Challenge and Presidents Cup are all nice events to win, but the Dubai World Championship towers above them all because of who you have to beat and how much the big stars want to win it.
By REX HOGGARD
The post-Tour Championship lineup is littered with unofficial exhibitions and far-flung boondoggles, but only one stop on the fall calendar requires the millionaires to work pro bono and only one enjoys the coveted status of a must-win – the Presidents Cup.
That wish list would include most team events, really, but this year it’s the biennial grudge match between the United States and Greg Norman that stands above all others. Actually, it’s the Americans vs. a dozen international players but it sure feels like it’s us against the Shark.
Some dismiss the Presidents Cup as the quirky little brother of the Ryder Cup, but that ignores the event’s increase in prominence and pressure the last few years. Chris DiMarco calls the winning putt in 2005 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club the highlight of his career and the buzz surrounding the ’07 matches in Canada was major-like.
No one is penciling in a “W” at the Franklin Templeton Shootout or Chevron World Challenge in January. A victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions is nice, however unofficial, but players have been known to go into extended swoons as they press to make the U.S. or International teams.
This week’s HSBC winner will collect $1.2 million. There is a good chance they would trade it all for the Presidents Cup. When it comes to cups, cachet always trumps cash.