The European Tour’s grand finale is this week in Dubai with the DP World Tour Championship. Here are a few groups to keep an eye on at Jumeirah Golf Estates:
9 a.m. local time (midnight ET) Thursday: Rory McIlroy, Darren Fichardt
McIlroy can’t go back-to-back in the Race to Dubai, but he can still defend his title in the season finale. Though it’s been a largely disappointing 2013 campaign, the world No. 6 has two top 10s in his last three worldwide starts and insists that his game is finally beginning to turn the corner. Whether that means he’ll get off the schneid before the season is through remains to be seen, of course.
11:05 a.m. local time (2:05 a.m. ET): Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jimenez
There should be no shortage of conversation topics among two of the Euro Tour’s most eccentric characters, though it’s unlikely they’ll discuss the ways in which they kicked away the 2013 Open. Anyway, both players would love to pick up their first wins of the year and end the season with a bang. Jimenez, who turns 50 in January, hasn’t finished better than 57th in his last four starts. Westwood hasn’t won a tournament, per se, though he is coming off a victory of sorts in the closest-to-the-pin competition from the 22nd-floor balcony. On the course, he hasn’t finished better than 24th in the three Final Series events.
11:50 a.m. local time (2:50 a.m. ET): Matteo Manassero, Peter Uihlein
Manassero (20) and Uihlein (24) are two of the brightest 20-somethings in the game, but their 2013 seasons have gone in opposite directions. The Italian won the BMW PGA in May for his biggest victory to date, but he hasn’t done much of anything since, failing to record a top-20 finish in his last 13 worldwide starts. Uihlein, meanwhile, has surged up the Race to Dubai standings (and the world rankings) with a strong summer and fall, which included a pair of runners-up at the Wales Open and Dunhill Links. After a T-5 at the BMW Masters, he has finished outside the top 50 in each of his last two starts.
12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET): Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter
It’s been an admittedly disappointing year for Poulter, but he seems to be rounding into form as the season comes to an end. He posted top-15 finishes in the first three Final Series events, and he is apparently so confident with his game that he made a $100 bet (with 10-1 odds) with Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson that he will overtake him for the year-end title. Meanwhile, G-Mac broke out of a late-season slump with a solo third at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Before that, he hadn’t recorded a top 10 in his last eight starts worldwide.
12:40 p.m. local time (3:40 a.m. ET): Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson
The two leading men in the Race to Dubai standings. Rose has back-to-back top 5s in the Final Series and controls his own destiny at the season finale – if he wins in Dubai, he wins the season-long prize. Stenson is still battling a wrist injury, but he is coming off a T-7 in Turkey. Keep in mind the Swede was also injured during the FedEx Cup playoffs. He ended up walking away with $11.44 million.