Golf never ceases to amaze. In the last two weeks on the European Tour, we had the youngest-ever winner wining his third tournament even before stepping out of his teen years, and a week later we had the oldest winner ever.
Of course, I am taking about young Matteo Manassero’s triumph at the Barclays Singapore Open, followed by 48-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez’s win at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
As we get ready for the biggest tournament on the European Tour — the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, which starts Thursday at the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates — I have no doubt each and every player in the field has a chance to win.
The unpredictable nature of golf obviously has a role to play, but the truth is that the fields in most professional golf tournaments run really deep. And while you do have a higher probability of superstars like Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood winning, they do have to play 72 solid holes to stay ahead of the dangerous chasing pack.
I am returning to the Earth course after a gap of two years, and it feels great for two reasons. One, it means that I’ve had a successful season on the European Tour, and two, because I did very well in the inaugural tournament, where I finished 13th.
Having won the European Tour’s season-ending championship once before, in Valderrama in 2006, I certainly would love to get my hands on the impressive DP World Tour Championship trophy. However, as I have mentioned in my previous column, I am coming off a short break after I had to withdraw from Singapore and Hong Kong with the recurrence of my finger injury.
So, my realistic expectations this week are just to try and play four consistent rounds and get in contention on Sunday morning. If that happens, we will take it from there.
Obviously Rory has already won the Race to Dubai and that should help ease any pressure on him and he can just concentrate on winning the tournament. But it won’t be easy for the world No.1 because there are so many players who are coming into the week on the back of impressive performances in recent weeks.
Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen, Matteo Manassero and Henrik Stenson are just a few of the names that come to my mind who have got momentum on their side. Then there is Westwood, who has got a great record on this golf course.
The course is in mint condition. I think the ground staff have done a brilliant job and one very perceptible difference I can feel from 2009, apart from the fact that it has matured a lot, is that the greens have improved so much. They are receptive to shots and are rolling very true.
All I can say to the golf fans here is that you’ve got to be there at the Earth course. The action promises to be spectacular.
— Jeev Milkha Singh is a four-time champion on the European Tour