Scottish Daily Mail
RORY FEELS DUBAI HEAT
Willett pushes him for Euro title
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.