This week’s DP World Tour Championship doesn’t just mark the end of the Race to Dubai and the European Tour season, it is also the end of an era.
Following the news that the European Tour will rebrand as the DP World Tour next season – starting at the Joburg Open next week – these few days represent a changing of the guard.
First, though, there is the business of who wins the Race to Dubai to sort out, and it looks like being a straight shoot-out between two Americans, Collin Morikawa and Billy Horschel.
We could have been treated to the exciting prospect of a three-way fight also involving world No1 Jon Rahm, who is third in the standings, but regrettably, the two-time winner of this event is sitting this one out to spend more time with his family.
Fellow former Race to Dubai champions Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson are also not playing, having failed to qualify.
Still, it’s always a cracking week and good news that top spot in the order of merit will rest on what happens at Jumeirah Golf Estates over the next few days.
Morikawa leads race heading into DP World Championship
With a 236-point lead to take into the finale, Open champion and world No2 Morikawa is the favourite to become the first US player to win the Race to Dubai.
It would cap an extraordinary year for the 24-year-old, who also won a WGC event and finished fourth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
But perhaps it would mean more to Horschel, 10 years Morikawa’s senior, who shot up the Race to Dubai standings with victory at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September.
Horschel won the FedEx Cup in 2014, so has the chance to become one of few people to win both the US and European order of merits.
The door isn’t completely shut on everyone else. If Morikawa and Horschel slip up badly, Tyrrell Hatton, Min Woo Lee, Matthew Fitzpatrick or Paul Casey could, in theory, overtake them by winning the DP World Tour Championship.
Hatton, who is fourth in the standings, has the best chance. The Englishman has been in patchy form lately but was runner-up in this event five years ago.
Rory McIlroy is out of the Race to Dubai running but is a two-time winner of this tournament and, having returned to form at the CJ Cup a few weeks ago, is understandably favourite.
Thomas Pieters, who rediscovered his winning touch earlier this month, is well suited to this course and will be bursting to get out there and compete.
Few of the big names on the entry list are in top form, however, so there is a chance for others – perhaps a newer face – to make a big statement this week.
Maybe it will be a fifth win of the year for a Danish player, following the 20-year-old Hojgaard twins, Rasmus and Nicolai, Jeff Winther and, on Sunday, Joachim B Hansen.
They have all spurred each other on in recent weeks; all of their victories have come since late August. End of an era though it may be, it is also the start of a new one.
European Tour rebrand is fantastic news
The European Tour’s rebranding as the DP World Tour is, on the whole, fantastic for the circuit.
I was there for its first event in the 1970s and it’s slightly sad that it is now coming to an end. But time moves on and this improved commercial deal with DP World will increase prize money and make the tour a more attractive place to play.
Finally, I have to congratulate Bernhard Langer on winning a record sixth Charles Schwab Cup at the age of 64.
Langer even shot a 63 at the weekend, beating his age for the first time. I’m sure it won’t be the last for an incredible player.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him @torrancesam