All to play for as Race to Dubai comes down to the wire
Lowry critical of the heavy weighting of points for the final events of the season
Shane Lowry in action during the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, Turkey. He is one of those in the frame for the overall grand prize in Dubai next week as the winner there will get a whopping 2,000 points. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Shane Lowry has one eye on the grand prize. So too Rory McIlroy. For the reality of the way next week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship has been weighted, with a top-heavy loading of points to whoever wins, means it is all to play for in the Race to Dubai order of merit campaign.
While Lowry has a family holiday in Dubai this week as he recharges his batteries, sticking to his plan of bypassing the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, the British Open champion is fully aware that giving additional points to the winner of the Tour Championship makes it a final shootout, perhaps even a winner-takes-all scenario in that anyone in the top 10 going into the final tournament will claim the order of merit if he wins the tournament.
Should that be the case?
Opinions, as always, differ. On this matter, Lowry has his opinion.
“Does the Tour Championship work? Does the FedEx Cup work? Who knows? Some say it does, some say it doesn’t. Giving so many [extra] points [in Turkey and Sun City] and in Dubai, when someone wins in Italy in a similar field or maybe a stronger field, gets few points [isn’t right].
“The Race to Dubai is brilliant and the DP World is a great tournament and you head to Dubai and it is a goal for certain players and it’s great to be teeing up in that tournament, and it is a year-end thing, but I feel you shouldn’t be able to back-door at the Race to Dubai. The European number one is a big thing, it rewards consistency over a given year.”
Under the new structure in the Race to Dubai this season, the top 70 players on the order of merit played in Turkey, the top-60 in Sun City and the top-50 in Dubai. The caveat is that it is the top how many available, which has meant the entry requirements slipping much further down as some players take a week off.
“I think if you’re not top 70 you shouldn’t be playing [in Turkey] and if you’re not top 60 you shouldn’t be playing the Nedbank and the same in Dubai. Now, if they left it at that, you may only have 50 players or something in Sun City and 45 showing up in Dubai. But that is the way it is.
“I think for Dubai, it should not go down the list. It used not to go down the list. It is diluting the Final Series and there are a lot of guys start the New Year with the goal to make the Race to Dubai but then all of a sudden they finish 50th on the money list and someone else finishes one behind and they are playing in the DP World as well. I don’t think that is right.”
If change is to happen, it will be next year or the year after that or whenever. For now, the parameters are set in stone and it will be the top 60 available players going down the rankings in Sun City this week and again the top 50 available players playing in Dubai where the tournament itself has $3 million to the winner and a bonus of €2 million from the bonus pool to whoever (possibly the same man) tops the order of merit.
As it stands, Lowry is third, some 672 points behind Austrian Bernd Wiesberger. Lowry is one of those who will be in the frame for that largesse in Dubai next week where the winner will get 2,000 points. Whatever about the mechanics of the additional loading of points for the season’s finale, it is what the European Tour had hoped for. All to play for so.