Jon Rahm: 'My fault' Race to Dubai is not on the line at DP World Tour Championship

Season-ending tournament will have no bearing on the outcome of order of merit title but the Masters champion is still determined to win the trophy for a fourth time

Jon Rahm tees off on the ninth hole during the Pro-Am ahead of the DP World Tour Championship. Getty Images
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Rory McIlroy, party-pooper. It seems odd to think that surely the most watchable player in world golf has rendered the season finale less of a spectacle than it might have been. And all by being just too good.

For the first time, the DP World Tour Championship will not matter to the final season count-up. McIlroy was already crowned the Race to Dubai champion with a week still to play.

It means Europe's leading 50 players will be competing for tournament honours only at Jumeirah Golf Estates this weekend, with no bearing on the order of merit title.

Jon Rahm will play with McIlroy in the last match out, at 12.45pm on Thursday. Rahm has won at the Earth Course in three of the past six seasons, and is keen to strike another blow there, saying “hopefully I can win one more time”.

“I think it's more disappointing for the fans,” Rahm said of the fact the rankings race is no longer still alive.

“If I was just within one point, probably it would be a very unlikely scenario of Rory needing to finish a long way down the leaderboard, which I don't think has ever happened here.

“At the same time, though, it's really my fault. He played great golf. I could have tried to get more points to give myself a chance this week. He did what he needed to do. I didn't.”

McIlroy has led the standings since he entered the race by winning the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club in January.

Given how life has panned out in the time since, it seems odd to think the Northern Irishman arrived for the Classic in mediocre humour.

He had been subpoenaed by Patrick Reed on Christmas Eve. There was a “storm in a teacup”, to use his words, over a thrown tee peg by the same player on the range ahead of that tournament.

Then the Classic itself was disrupted by an actual storm, which caused the course to be closed, play to be suspended, and a bunker to cave in.

He has returned here 10 months later on the back of “my best-ever Ryder Cup.” A fifth Harry Vardon Trophy title is already assured. And even that only qualifies as a “seven out of 10” season, he says.

Life is sweet, even if the weather is forecast to be inclement again in the coming days.

“If someone had told 18-year-old Rory when I was making my professional debut in 2007 that I would have won five Order of Merits up to this point, I wouldn't have believed them,” McIlroy said.

“I certainly don't take it for granted. It shows the consistency I've played with over the last few years that even though I don't feel like I've had a great year, I can still go ahead and achieve things like this.”

Whether McIlroy can cap his season with another title remains to be seen. He has won twice at the Earth Course, most recently in 2015.

His Thursday playing partner, though, has dominated this tournament in recent years. Even Rahm is at a loss to explain why he has hoovered up so many DP World Tour Championship titles.

“I get that question every year,” the Spaniard said. “I don't know. I really can't tell you. I really, really don't know.

“It's obviously a ball-striker's golf course. You have certain shots off the tee that you can take advantage of, and you can be way more aggressive into some of those greens, which some of those pins are not the easiest to attack.

“But that's true to pretty much any golf course. The guy who hits it straight all week has a really good chance. I couldn't really pinpoint one thing why I've had success here.”

Updated: November 15, 2023, 10:57 AM