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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Five players set to challenge Fleetwood, Rose and Garcia for DP World Tour Championship title

The final event of the European Tour season tees off at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth course on Thursday.

Jon Rahm has been one of golf's breakout stars in 2017 and his success has been recognised with the European Tour's rookie-of-the-year award. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Jon Rahm has been one of golf's breakout stars in 2017 and his success has been recognised with the European Tour's rookie-of-the-year award. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

With Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia occupied with chasing the Race to Dubai title this week, John McAuley looks through the field at five others who could be in the hunt for the DP World Tour Championship title come Sunday. (Race to Dubai ranking in brackets)

Jon Rahm (4)

The rising star of European golf, the Spaniard has had an incredible rookie season, winning at Torrey Pines and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – a Rolex Series event. With two seconds at the World Golf Championships, Rahm has vaulted to No 5 in the world rankings. Not bad considering he turned 23 only last week. Is making his debut in Dubai, but then again, it’s his first year on tour. It didn’t matter too much in Ireland.

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Rafa Cabrera Bello (7)

Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

A Dubai resident, not to mention a former Dubai Desert Classic champion, the Spaniard is no stranger to the Earth course. Ok, his best finish there is ninth in 2014, and he was uncharacteristically poor last week, but Cabrera Bello was in fine form before then. In the three weeks leading up to South Africa, he carded two top 10s and an 11th. The Race to Dubai pressure is off, too, so should be a strong week.

Francesco Molinari (10)

Warren Little / Getty Images
Warren Little / Getty Images

The Italian is a bit of an old hand at the event, having contested the previous eight years. In that time, he has never finished lower than 16th. A pretty impressive record includes four top-sixes, all of which came in his past seven appearances. Molinari may not have won in more than a year, but he was second at this year’s BMW Championship and the US PGA Championship – two prize events. Scoring average of 69.5 around Earth. Handy.

Thomas Pieters (16)

Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

Has not really kicked on this year, although the big-hitting Belgian could end the season on a high. Pieters has played the event only twice, when problems on the par-5 18th throughout the week put pay to his chances on debut, before a disappointing 40th last year. However, the course is set up for him, while his best results this season – fourth at Masters, WGC-Bridgestone, fifth at WGC-Mexico - came on lengthy tracks. Tied-11th last time out in Turkey.

Nicolas Colsaerts (28)

Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

Another Belgian blaster, Colsaerts’ career has not exactly gone to plan since the 2012 Ryder Cup. He is without victory in five years, but two weeks ago came close again, finishing second behind Justin Rose in Turkey. Before that, there were decent performances in Portugal and Italy. Last year, Colsaerts was fourth around Earth, averaging more than 310 yards and hitting more than 80 per cent of greens in regulation. Has the talent, but the temperament this week too?

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