The DP World Tour Championship was introduced in 2009 as the final event of the European Tour season. Its introduction heralded a major change in European golf, as the season-long Order of Merit was replaced with the Race to Dubai.
Throughout its history, the DP World Tour Championship has been held at the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Each year, the 60 top players in the Race to Dubai rankings hunt for the birdies they need to win the tournament and the ranking points they need to be crowned the European Tour golfer of the year.
|2020||Jumeirah Golf Estates||Matthew Fitzpatrick|
|2019||Jumeirah Golf Estates||Jon Rahm|
|2018||Jumeirah Golf Estates||Danny Willett|
|2017||Jumeirah Golf Estates||Jon Rahm|
2020: Matthew Fitzpatrick
The season-ending DP World Tour Championship is best known for providing European Tour players with a shot at glory. It was different for Matt Fitzpatrick in 2020. He viewed the tournament as a shot at redemption after a disappointing season. Building on some strong incoming form, Fitzpatrick grabbed that opportunity with a one-stroke victory over Lee Westwood.
Fitzpatrick was not in contention to win the Race to Dubai. Disappointing as that was, it made things simple for him. His job was to focus on his performance and in that regard, he was very happy with his first three days of play. On Sunday, he tried to reduce the pressure again by telling himself his play so far made this a good week no matter what the result on Sunday.
As it turned out, the quality of his golf remained high on Sunday and he could see the win out. Runner up Lee Westwood was far from disappointed with his result as it was enough to complete his own redemption. His wonderful season ended with him winning the Race to Dubai, 11 years since he last topped the order of merit and 18 years after he first won it.
2019: Jon Rahm
When Jon Rahm won the 2017 DP World Tour Championship he viewed it as validation. Knowing that he could win the biggest events on the European Tour was important but by no means the limit of his ambitions. He wanted to join his hero Seve Ballesteros and top the European Tour order of merit and he did just that with this win at the 2019 DP World Tour Championship.
Rahm started the tournament as the best player on the European Tour. This event was about setting out his stall and making it clear to his challengers that they would have to raise their game to have any chance of catching him. It was Tommy Fleetwood who took up the challenge of catching Rahm. The Englishman went on a tear on the back nine with birdies on five of his last seven holes. At the same time, Rahm’s levels dropped and it looked as though the tournament was heading for a playoff with the two men level on -18 with Rahm stood on the final tee.
Typically, Rahm went on the attack in the search for the birdie he needed to win but found himself in trouble in a greenside bunker. That’s when he produced a bit of magic worthy of Ballesteros to get up and down for the title. This was a sixth win from just 15 European Tour starts for Rahm who moved to number three in the world rankings as well as number one in Europe.
2018: Danny Willett
Danny Willett will always be a Masters champion. Just like the way American presidents are called president for life, golfers who win green jackets are Masters champions for life. The trouble for Willett is that he achieved precious little after that Masters win. He lost his swing, split with his coach and caddie and plummeted down the world rankings. Such a slip would have buried some golfers but Willett resolved to do the work required to get back to the top-level so his win at the 2018 DP World Tour Championship was as sweet as any other in his career.
“It’s been tough,” Willett said after the win. “You never quite know when a win is around the corner and with all the things that have happened, I was never quite sure if it was going to happen again.” He wasn’t even sure on the final hole of the tournament. Despite having a two-shot lead to play with, Willett hit a wayward drive towards the creek that meanders up the 18th hole at the Earth Course. He thought his ball was in the hazard but got an incredibly lucky break and took advantage to see out the win.
Just like the year before, the DP World Tour Champion did not also win the Race to Dubai. That honour went to Francesco Molinari. The Italian added the European order of merit to a year in which he won the Open and starred with a perfect five-point record at the Ryder Cup.
2017: Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm capped a superb season for Spanish golf with his win at the 2017 DP World Tour Championship. Masters champion Sergio Garcia was the winner of the Golfer of the Year award but it was Rahm who got his hands on the tournament trophy.
Like so many younger players who did so well in the American collegiate system, Rahm turned pro with a huge amount of confidence. He arrived in Dubai with wins on both the PGA Tour and European Tour to his name and set about attacking the Earth Course. He played some very good golf across all four days of the DP World Tour Championship and was in position to strike when Justin Rose made a couple of costly mistakes in the final round.
Rose’s wayward drive on 12 and a short missed putt for par on 16 were not just costly in terms of the tournament. In falling from the lead to a share of second place Rose also missed out on the Race to Dubai, handing top spot on the European Tour’s order of merit to Tommy Fleetwood. As for Rahm, this was the win that proved he had very quickly joined golf’s elite. “I don’t know if it shows anybody else or note, but it does prove to myself that I belong to be here,” said Rahm, in contemplative mood.