I CANNOT remember a European Tour season with so many players still in with a chance of scooping the order of merit as they prepare to tee off in the final event.
Nine men remain in contention to win the Race to Dubai heading into the DP World Tour Championship, which begins at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Thursday.
There is no shortage of players hitting form but the man to beat is still Henrik Stenson, as the Swede still sits atop the 2013 rankings.
Stenson was tied for seventh at the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday – his eighth top 10 finish in 12 events – and has had a magnificent year.
He has revealed that he is nursing a wrist problem, which may limit his practice this week in Dubai. On the other hand, they say “beware the injured golfer” and he will start the tournament well rested.
The biggest threats to Stenson come from two Englishmen who are on top of their game right now: Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.
Rose climbed to second in the Race to Dubai with a third-place finish in Turkey, where he looked in line to win after a brilliant front nine on Sunday. The US Open champion was fifth and sixth in his previous two tournaments, and also has previous at Jumeirah, where he was runner-up to Rory McIlroy last year.
Poulter has also been second in Dubai before, in 2010 behind Robert Karlsson, and is fourth in the order of merit following his tie for fifth at the weekend. Graeme McDowell is third in the order of merit but the Northern Irishman has had a strange year of great highs and big lows too.
Climbing to ninth in the Race to Dubai, and incredibly still in with a faint chance of claiming the top prize, is French youngster Victor Dubuisson, who pipped Rose and Poulter in Turkey. It was a first ever European Tour title for the 23-year-old and earned him €850,000 – 50 per cent more than in all of 2012. He has also shot up from 108 to 39 in the world rankings.
Dubuisson seemed in control for most of the contest, despite some extraordinary golf from Jamie Donaldson, who upped the pressure with a hole in one at 16 that briefly saw the Welshman share the lead.
They may be too far adrift to claim the race to Dubai, despite being mathematically in contention, but the fact that so many players are still scrapping it out – and that so many are British – is wonderfully encouraging for the future.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam