Scottish Daily Mail

RORY FEELS DUBAI HEAT

Wil­lett pushes him for Euro ti­tle

- by DEREK LAWREN­SON

BE­TWEEN them Rory McIl­roy and Danny Wil­lett have played well over 5,000 shots in this year’s Race to Dubai. now, go­ing into the fi­nal event in the Mid­dle East this week, they are ef­fec­tively sep­a­rated by one stroke.

Wil­lett had to fin­ish 28th in the BMW Mas­ters won by the Swede Kristof­fer Broberg in Shang­hai yes­ter­day to top the stand­ings to be­come Europe’s no 1 but, af­ter drop­ping a shot at the par-three 17th, just hap­pened to fall back into a tie for 28th.

It means McIl­roy has held on to pole po­si­tion by 1,613 points and, when you think the win­ner of this week’s DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship will win 1.3mil­lion points, it un­der­lines the slen­der­ness of the mar­gin. In re­al­ity, it adds up to who fin­ishes one place above the other in Dubai.

It is not quite a two-horse race. With so many points avail­able there are five other play­ers — namely Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen, Bran­den Grace and An Byeong-hun — who could the­o­ret­i­cally win it all.

But even Rose in third place is start­ing 650,000 points adrift and so in the realms of not only re­quir­ing a vic­tory but also a help­ing hand from the duo in front to stand a re­al­is­tic chance.

Wil­lett cut a frus­trated fig­ure as he left China, and no won­der. Given McIl­roy’s vast ex­pe­ri­ence of pres­sure sit­u­a­tions and his awesome record on the Jumeirah course where this week’s event will be staged — he’s had four top-threes, in­clud­ing one vic­tory, in six ap­pear­ances and never fin­ished worse than 11th — the York­shire­man may feel his best chance has gone.

All week he had been frus­trated by his putting and so it con­tin­ued un­til the end.

‘I just strug­gled on the greens through­out and it was pretty stale, to be hon­est,’ said the 28-yearold from Sh­effield.

‘But I’ve got a day to re­group and then it will be time to get my head back on.

‘The pos­i­tive thing is that I know it is all in my own hands in Dubai and that’s still a great sit­u­a­tion to be in.’

The other thing he has go­ing for him is that all the pres­sure will be on McIl­roy.

This time last year, Wil­lett (right) was ranked 102 in the world and so just to be in this po­si­tion vividly il­lus­trates his star­tling progress.

By con­trast, McIl­roy is look­ing for some fi­nal con­so­la­tion fol­low­ing a dif­fi­cult sum­mer dis­rupted by in­jury, as he seeks a re­turn to the form he showed ear­lier in the sea­son, when he won three times in as many months.

As for the BMW event, Ian Poul­ter, seek­ing a first win in three years, was left kick­ing him­self af­ter miss­ing a short birdie putt at the 13th that would have given him a tie for the lead.

He fin­ished poorly as well to drop back into a tie for 11th.

Fel­low English­man Paul Casey was not a happy camper ei­ther af­ter find­ing the wa­ter with his drive at the last to fall back to tied-sev­enth with Rose.

Spa­niard Ser­gio Gar­cia was an­other big name to fal­ter, drop­ping three costly shots in his fi­nal two holes to fin­ish along­side Poul­ter.

So it came down to Broberg and Amer­i­can Pa­trick Reed, with both men miss­ing good birdie chances at the 18th.

Back they went to the tee for the first hole of a sud­den-death play-off, and this time the 29-year-old Swede made no mis­take, hol­ing a gutsy 12ft birdie putt for his first tour suc­cess — and a no­table scalp into the bar­gain.

 ?? AFP ?? On course: McIl­roy wins at Jumeirah
in 2014
AFP On course: McIl­roy wins at Jumeirah in 2014
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