The 2015 European Tour season ends at this week's DP World Tour Championship with seven players still in contention to top the money list
The European Tour’s season-ending Final Series concludes at the DP World Tour Championship this week – and seven players remain in contention to win the 2015 Race to Dubai.
Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett are the two players most likely – the former leads the latter by just 1,613 points at the top of the standings – although Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Byeong-Hun An can also triumph if results are favourable.
There are, naturally, a myriad of permutations explaining where each player can finish and still win depending on the performance of their rivals.
Given McIlroy has five top-five finishes in six appearances at Jumeirah Golf Estates, though – including winning the tournament in 2012 – those aiming to usurp the Northern Irishman are only likely to do so by earning the 1,333,330 points that accompanies a victory.
We assess the seven players’ chances of achieving success at this week’s par-72, 7,675-yard Earth Course.
McIlroy topped the Race to Dubai after finishing fourth at the Masters and has held on to the position ever since, despite missing the Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with damaged ankle ligaments.
The 26-year-old has two victories on Tour this season – at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January and the WGC – Cadillac Match Play in May – and tied for 11th at the WGC-HSBC Champions last time out.
McIlroy has won three of the last four order of merits and boasts a formidable record at the DP World Tour Championship – finishing third, fifth, 11th, first, fifth and tied second.
33/1 – Danny WillettWillett was unable to overtake the absent McIlroy at the BMW Masters last week, tying for 28th when that position outright would have sufficed.
That the refreshed McIlroy was granted special dispensation by the Tour to remain in the Race despite not competing in the required 13 tournaments has irked the Englishman, who is playing for the fourth week on the spin.
Willett has been in the top two ever since winning the season-opening Nedbank Golf Challenge almost 12 months ago – he followed that up with victory at the Omega European Masters in July – and will probably have to improve on his best ever finish at this week’s event – tied 21st last year – if he is to stay there.
15/2 – Justin RoseRose won the order of merit in 2007 and has finished inside the Race to Dubai’s top three for the last three seasons.
The Englishman climbed to third in this year’s edition after tying for seventh at the BMW Masters last week – his first start since winning the UBS Hong Kong Open last month.
Rose has recorded top-10 finishes in his last five Tour starts, while he was also runner-up at Jumeirah Golf Estates in 2012 and 2014.
40/1 – Shane LowryLowry finished 10th in the money list 12 months ago and is poised to secure a lofty position this time around following his victory at the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational in August.
The Irishman is not in perfect nick – finishing tied 68th and tied 56th at the HSBC Champions and BMW Masters in his previous two starts – although he was fifth in this event 12 months ago.
Lowry has saved his best for the big-money tournaments this season, recording top 10s at the BMW PGA Championship, US Open, British Masters and Turkish Airlines Open.
33/1 – Louis OosthuizenOosthuizen recorded six top-10 finishes in his first seven European Tour starts this season, including runner-up spots at the US Open and Open Championship.
And even though the South African has been outside the top 30 in his last four events, he remains one of best players in the 60-man field this week.
Oosthuizen tied for sixth at the DP World Tour Championship last year, having also done so in 2011 and finishing fifth 12 months later.
20/1 – Branden GraceGrace became the 2015 European Tour season’s first two-time champion – winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship last December before triumphing at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in January.
The South African tied for fourth at the US Open before finishing third at the US PGA Championship, while he also shared fifth at the WGC-HSBC Champions earlier this month.
Grace has two top-10 results in three starts at this tournament and will be aiming to at least improve on his previous-best Race to Dubai finish of sixth, which he achieved three years ago.
28/1 – Byeong-Hun AnWhile unlikely to become the first ever rookie to win the order of merit, An’s incredible first season on the European Tour has propelled him to 39th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
The South Korean – perhaps unsurprisingly – suffered a minor dip in form after his seven-shot victory at the BMW PGA Championship in May, but his recent displays make him one of the most in-form players teeing up this week.
An followed his fourth at the Turkish Airlines Open with a share of third at last week’s BMW Masters – his sixth top-10 of the campaign – and another stellar performance at the DP World Tour Championship should secure him Rookie of the Year honours.