Blogs & Opinion


Race to Dubai: Rob Lee tipping Henrik Stenson to top standings

Rob Lee - Rob Lee Posted 11th November 2013 view comments

Henrik Stenson may be playing with a dodgy wrist but he is still my favourite to win the Race to Dubai.

The Swede is over 200,000 points better off than nearest challengers Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter ahead of this week's DP World Tour Championship and is primed to end the year as European number one.

Stenson: Rob reckons he will cement top spot in the Race to Dubai

Stenson: Rob reckons he will cement top spot in the Race to Dubai

Length certainly helps at Jumeirah Golf Estates - if you can blow it over some of the cross bunkers you are really in business - and that plays into Henrik's hands, who is a longer hitter than Rose, McDowell and Poulter.

I would be delighted if Henrik got the job done in Dubai, too, as it would complete a remarkable comeback following his loss of form and loss of earnings after getting bitten by Allen Stanford's Ponzi scheme.

Length certainly helps at Jumeirah Golf Estates and that plays into Henrik's hands, who is a longer hitter than Rose, McDowell and Poulter.

Rob Lee
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Stenson has also fully supported the European Tour by playing in each of the three Final Series events in the lead-up to the World Tour Championship and that, coupled with his excellent play this year, is why he deserves to be his continent's top dog.

Mathematically

The current top nine in the Race to Dubai standings - the four I've mentioned, plus Jamie Donaldson, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Thongchai Jaidee, Richard Sterne and Victor Dubuisson - can all mathematically finish first.

Whether or not Donaldson achieves that feat, he can still be tremendously proud of turning the volume up on his career; Jamie - second in last week's Turkish Airlines Open - is in his late-30s now and playing the best golf of his life.

I think he is determined to get himself in the 2014 European Ryder Cup team and a good showing in the World Tour Championship, which has so many points attached to it, will significantly boost his chances of doing that.

Donaldson has not backed off all season and neither has Jaidee, whose highlights this year include finishing runner-up to McDowell at the Volvo World Match Play in Bulgaria and second to Fernandez-Castano at the BMW Masters.

Jaidee has a great attitude, is having a second win in his forties and proved that his game - which has been honed on the Asian Tour, where he has won 13 times - is transferable and can do some damage in Europe.

The underrated Fernandez-Castano, meanwhile, has always been a fantastic ball striker but, this year, has found a way to get the ball in the hole, something that has blighted him a little in the past.

Quality

Sterne has not yet jumped out of the shadow of fellow South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Ernie Els - primarily because they have won Majors and he hasn't - but he is of that group's quality.

He has been hamstrung by injury and never been able to put a proper run together, but his body seems to be stronger now and if it remains in one piece, he is more than capable of winning one of the big four.

The final man still in with a shot of being Race to Dubai Champion is Dubuisson, who fended off Donaldson, Rose, Tiger Woods et al on Sunday to win the Turkish Airlines Open and his maiden event on the European Tour.

I wasn't sure a tournament victory for Dubuisson was that imminent but I certainly thought he was a player that would make a big splash, and he did well in Antalya to not let the five-shot lead he took into the final round slip.

The Frenchman is a real character, too - when he heard me say he looked like D'Artagnan on the television he came to find me and said: 'I like it' - and it is only good for the game that guys like him are finding their feet.

Dubuisson is only 23 so could be the superstar of French golf for years to come - the likes of Raphael Jacquelin, Gregory Bourdy and Julien Quesne are good but all in their 30s - but he must make sure he applies himself and doesn't rely on talent alone.

If he carries on in this vein, though, I'm sure he will have his eyes on the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris - if not next year's showdown at Gleneagles.

ROB'S DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP TIPS

I expect Stenson to do enough to top the Race to Dubai standings but I think Rory McIlroy will do what he did last year and win the DP World Tour Championship. He is turning the corner and is beginning to drive the ball really well and if you whack it miles on that course you have a wonderful advantage. He's 11/2 with Sky Bet.

Lee Westwood represents a decent bet at odds of 28/1, though; he is not firing on all cylinders but you cannot question his quality and he won at Jumeirah in 2009, so don't write him off.

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