Race To Dubai: Top 10 Heading Into European Tour Final Series

As the European Tour Final Series is set to get underway this week, who are the top 10 in the Race To Dubai?

Race to Dubai

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As the Race to Dubai comes to its conclusion in 2016, the European Tour will get exactly the kind of final series they likely envisioned upon the event’s inception.

Many of the world’s very best players are well-positioned to battle it out over a three week spell to see who will be crowned the winner of the equivalent of the old European money list, and in effect the best player on tour for the year.

Among them, FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, Masters winner Danny Willett and Open champion Henrik Stenson will all feature prominently.

In spite of security fears causing many players to skip the opening event, Turkish Airlines Open, a strong field there, plus the prestigious Nedbank Golf Challenge and the season ending DP World Tour Championship mean that there’s plenty of drama yet to come.

Whether one of the front runners can find the kind of form to hang on to their existing strong position, or an in-form player can come from further back in the pack to win remains to be seen.

Who’s going to walk away as the Race to Dubai winner for 2016? Let’s take a closer look at the top-10 heading into the final series.

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1. Henrik Stenson

Race To Dubai Points: 3,843,284

Upcoming Schedule: Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: Stenson is no stranger to Race to Dubai success having been the overall winner back in 2013, but it could never feel more fitting for him to win that title again, than if he was to do it at the end of what’s been a career season.

With an incredible six top-three finishes in 14 European Tour starts this season, Stenson’s play has been imperious, as demonstrated by his win at the Open Championship and the BMW International Open.

Recent Form: With a combination of injuries keeping him out of action in the FedEx Cup and for much of the run up to the Ryder Cup, and some rest in recent weeks, Stenson’s schedule hasn’t exactly been hectic. Saying that, he took the top spot thanks to a second place finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions last week, and should be fresh heading into the final two weeks of his season.

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2. Danny Willett

Race To Dubai Points: 3,581,897

Upcoming Schedule: Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: Willett’s season has been plagued by inconsistency and marked highs and lows, but when it’s all said done the overriding impression will be how much greater the peaks were than they have ever been before for the Englishman.

An early win at the high profile Omega Dubai Desert Classic set the tone for a more confident Willett to succeed this year, and he surpassed all of those expectations by claiming the green jacket at The Masters. Four other top-fives saw Willett generate big pay days, leaving him in a strong position overall.

Recent Form: With a spate of missed cuts and low ranked finishes around the world only briefly interrupted by a second placed finish at the Italian Open, Willett’s second half of the season has fallen apart. He had a Ryder Cup debut to forget, was 75th last week and desperately needs to find some form if he’s to succeed overall.

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3. Rory McIlroy

Race To Dubai Points: 2,824,149

Upcoming Schedule: Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: In only 13 European starts this season, it speaks volumes of McIlroy’s play that he’s so well-positioned in terms of trying to add a Race To Dubai success to his PGA Tour FedEx Cup win this season.

A big win on his home island for the Irish Open provided McIlroy with his biggest European pay day this year, while strong play at three World Golf Championship events helped to bolster his case further.

Recent Form: The FedEx Cup saw McIlroy hit his stride after a season that had been somewhat marked by putting woes, and two wins in that time would go on to spur him on to a strong Ryder Cup too. Fourth place in China last week sets him up well for his return to action in South Africa next week.

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4. Alex Noren

Race To Dubai Points: 2,318,604

Upcoming Schedule: Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: With a career that had never quite lived up to the potential that had once been promised, Alex Noren has transformed his standing in the world of golf over the past few months or so.

Noren has won three times on the European Tour since July, catapulting himself up into the top-20 of the World Golf Rankings, thanks to his successes at the Scottish Open, European Masters and British Masters.

Recent Form: With those three recent wins, a second place finish and a tie for 11th in his last 10 European Tour events, Noren may be in the best form of any player on tour. If he can pick up another win or two to seal the deal, it would be a truly historic season for the Swede.

European Tour

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5. Tyrrell Hatton

Race To Dubai Points: 2,242,985

Upcoming Schedule: Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: A strong summer of play at the Scottish Open and then in the majors catapulted Hatton towards the upper echelon of the European Tour’s rankings, and in the time since then the 25-year-old has kicked on and improved his standing even further.

A win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship only a couple of weeks ago gave Hatton the biggest win of his career and pushed him into the top-five of the Race to Dubai standings.

Recent Form: It’s only three weeks since Hatton picked up that win at some of Scotland’s greatest courses and in the time since then he’s impressed further. A tie for ninth at the British Masters was followed up by a tie for 23rd at the WGC-HSBC Champions, meaning that Hatton could make inroads on those who’ve taken the week off in Turkey this week.

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6. Rafa Cabrera Bello

Race To Dubai Points: 1,969,107

Upcoming Schedule: Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: Rafa Cabrera Bello has been the picture of consistency throughout the season on both sides of the world, even though, amazingly he has failed to get over the line for a win.

Cabrera Bello has had five top-five finishes on the season overall, which obviously played a leading role in his ascent up the Race To Dubai rankings, but perhaps even more important is that he has made the cut in all 21 events he’s played on Tour for the season.

Recent Form: Between preparing for and recovering from the Olympics and the Ryder Cup, Cabrera Bello hasn’t played quite as often in Europe as late, although when he has made the trip, he’s put in solid showings.

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7. Louis Oosthuizen

Race To Dubai Points: 1,760,893

Upcoming Schedule: Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: Once a regular fixture of European Tour events, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen hasn’t made the trip for European events quite as often in recent years, but still plays well enough in majors and WGC events to be a factor at the end of the season.

In this case, a runner-up finish at the WGC World Matchplay was really the trigger that sent Oosthuizen into the top-10 of the standings, and although it hasn’t been a vintage year, he’s played well enough to maintain that position in the time since.

Recent Form: Oosthuizen’s form has been solid as he played his way through the FedEx Cup playoffs with a top-10 and three top-20s overall. He certainly has the tools to show up and steal the show over the next few weeks too.

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8. Chris Wood

Race To Dubai Points: 1,756,331

Upcoming Schedule: Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: Although there’s been some good play throughout the year for Wood, his fortunes were totally transformed thanks to one really big at the best possible time.

A win at the tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship secured Wood with one of the biggest pay days available in Europe throughout the season, saw Wood make his way into the European Ryder Cup team and rocket up the Race to Dubai leaderboard.

Recent Form: Neither the best nor the worst of the rookies at the Ryder Cup, Wood is playing pretty solid golf, as his last three starts can attest to. Top-25s at the Italian Open, British Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions mean he shouldn’t be overlooked in the coming weeks.

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9. Branden Grace

Race To Dubai Points: 1,749,895

Upcoming Schedule: Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: Grace has played a limited schedule in Europe this year, now playing most of his golf in America, but he’s certainly made the most of his trips to play European Tour golf.

A win at the Qatar Masters and a fourth placed finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge propelled Grace into solid position, while top-five finishes at both the US Open and US PGA sealed a good standing heading into the final series for the South African.

Recent Form: Certainly not in his best form, Grace missed the cut at the Alfred Dunhill Links, before finishing 33rd in the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic and then 30th at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

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10. Lee Westwood

Race To Dubai Points: 1,655,313

Upcoming Schedule: Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship

How He Got Here: By Lee Westwood’s exceptionally high standards, 2016 has been something of a down year. Still, the veteran managed to have a great week at The Masters at just the right time, pulling in a healthy prize for second place.

Outside of that, Westwood has only two top-five finishes on the year, coming at the Omega European Masters and the British Masters. Clearly, he likes tournaments that includes Masters in the name.

Recent Form: After a dismal Ryder Cup showing, Westwood has bounced back with some much improved play. Although 29th at last week’s WGC event won’t raise any eyebrows, third at the British Masters was a sign of some real progress.

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