Last Sunday was a big sporting day in the desert. First up was the final round of the concluding tournament on the 2022 DP World [European] Tour in Dubai. Then we had the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, also the final event on the Formula 1 season’s calendar. At 4 pm UK time, we had football, with Ecuador taking on the hosts in the opening match of the World Cup in Qatar. If Saudi Arabia had managed to arrange for the evening to involve one of those world title boxing fights it intermittently promotes, that would have been some sporting Grand Slam for the Middle East.
There’s a little over a month to go until the World Cup ends; just two days until the 2023 DP World Tour schedule gets started in Johannesburg. Which leaves us with just a little time to reflect on Jon Rahm’s victory in the DP World Tour Championship over the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estate, the third time he had emerged triumphant in this battle of the best in Europe. His total of 268 was two shots better than managed by Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren, and four better than Rory McIlroy, whose fourth-place finish nevertheless enabled the world No. 1 to claim the Harry Vardon Trophy for topping what we used to call the Order of Merit for the fourth time. It is perhaps a reflection of how the geography (and much else) has changed in golf that McIlroy was able to do this without actually winning in Europe.
Rahm began the week with a vigorous broadside against the Official World Golf Rankings. And this was nothing to do with the complaints levelled by Greg Norman on behalf of his LIV golfers. “The OWGR right now is laughable,” said Rahm. “Laughable! The fact that [the PGA Tour event this week] doesn’t have any of the top-20 in the world and has more points than this event where we have seven of the top-20 is laughable.” Nothing that occurred in Dubai caused him to change his mind but he left the place happy. “Three wins worldwide, three wins on three different continents. There was no major championship but it’s still a really good season.”
McIlroy was a happy chappy, too. “It means a lot,” he said. “It’s been seven years since I’ve last done it. Obviously this is my fourth one but it’s been a while. I’ve won three FedEx Cups since the last time I won, which was the Race to Dubai back then.” And looking ahead as well as back he added this. “It’s taken me seven years to get my hands back on this trophy and it’s been eight since I won a major. If I can keep playing the way I’m playing and keep these levels up, I will do that.”
In 2014 he won both the Open and the USPGA Championship. The former was played at Royal Liverpool. It will be back at Hoylake next July.
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