x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nothing short of the best

The European PGA Tour's finale proved superior to anything the American PGA Tour could have offered.

One year and one day since a certain car accident in Florida stirred curious headlines in the news and early rumblings in the golf rankings, the centre of the planet in November 2010 somehow turned out to be the Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates and Dubai.

The European PGA Tour's finale yesterday proved superior to anything the American PGA Tour could have offered, what with six of the top 10 players, 11 of the top 20, a star-studded leaderboard and a phalanx of players speaking realistically of occupying slot No 1.

That scenario would have seemed loony a year and a day ago, with Tiger Woods's lead yawning at nearly double that of Phil Mickelson, the world No 2, and two-and-a-half times the then-No 4 Lee Westwood.

Yet after Woods's personal woes fed his descent, the Dubai World Championship seemed to teem with throne-sitting hopes.

Westwood already has spent a month at No 1 after supplanting Woods. He finished a shot out of the play-off and said: "Whenever you get to No 1, you can't be too disappointed." Martin Kaymer, No 3 after a year that saw him win four tournaments (one major) and the Race To Dubai, fielded questions about No 1 and said: "I know I can do it."

And with Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter - ranked seven to 11 - finishing sixth, ninth, 13th, fifth and second respectively, ambition abounds on the European Tour. From No 9, the US Open champion McDowell said: "I think it is an achievable goal," thereby epitomising the centre-of-world essence of the Dubai World Championship.


cculpepper@ thenational.ae