By Allistar Tait, Golfweek
What an end to the European Tour season. Chief executive George O’Grady couldn’t have asked for anything better than the world and European No. 1 player Rory McIlroy signing off the season by winning the DP World Tour Championship.
McIlroy fired a 6-under 66 on Sunday - including five consecutive birdies to close out the tournament - to clear the hard-charging Justin Rose (who shot 10-under 62) by two shots.
Luke Donald (71) tied for third with Charl Schwartzel (68). Louis Oosthuizen (69) was another shot back in fifth.
Here are 5 Things to take away from Dubai:
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1. RORY RULES THE ROOST: Amazing to think it has been less than five years since McIlroy turned pro. He always seemed destined for greatness, but there have been other so called “can’t miss” kids who have missed spectacularly.
With another major under his belt in this year’s PGA Championship, winning the money list on both sides of the Atlantic, and a stranglehold on the World No. 1 spot, McIlroy seems destined to take the game by the scruff of the neck and not let go for a long time.
Perhaps the only impediment to his advancement is the equipment change he will make next year. Many players have switched clubs only to encounter dips in form. However, McIlroy is so talented he could probably switch to plastic kids’ clubs and still dominate.
"I just wanted to finish the season the way I thought I deserved to finish the season," said McIlroy. "You know, I played so well throughout the year and I didn't want to just let it tail off sort of timidly. I wanted to come here and finish in style."
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2. THERE IS NO RECESSION: Not for Europe’s top players anyway. The announcement of the 2013 European Tour schedule proves that.
Following the PGA Tour’s example, the European Tour will feature a “Final Series” of four big-money events worth over $30 million to conclude the season.
The BMW Masters, WGC-HSBC Champions, Turkish Open and the DP World Tour Championship will decide who wins the European money list. Players will have to play in at least two of the first three to be eligible for Dubai, while those who play all of the first three will receive a 20 percent bonus on their order of merit points.
“The introduction of The Final Series and the associated changes to the structure are being made to bring even more drama and excitement to the conclusion of our season and to further enhance the Race to Dubai,” O’Grady said.
“We felt there had to be an additional level of commitment from the membership to these important tournaments, hence the new regulation.
“The response from our leading players to this change has been extremely encouraging and we take confidence from their support as we look to continue the positive evolution of the European Tour in an extremely challenging economic climate.”
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3. GOOD & BAD SCHEDULE NEWS: The good news about the announcement of the 2013 schedule is that there are a minimum of 45 events on next year’s European Tour schedule. The bad news is that there is only one tournament each in Spain and England.
The 2013 schedule begins with the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa from December 6-9, 2012, and carries through several continents before it reaches Dubai in November. With several TBA entries on the schedule, there is the real possibility of further additions. Not bad in the current economic climate.
New destinations in Turkey and Bulgaria, the Turkish Open and the Volvo World Match Play Championship at the Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Kavarna, prove that the European Tour continues to break new ground. However, the BMW PGA Championship in May remains the only English tournament on the schedule, while the Spanish Open is the only survivor from seven tournaments on this year’s calendar.
Given Europe’s financial woes, the possibility of playing further events in Spain and England remains remote. Just as well former European Tour chief executive Ken Schofield had the foresight to take the Tour outside Europe’s borders back in 1989 with the Dubai Desert Classic.
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4. LAWRIE'S REVIVAL HIGHLIGHTS SCOTTISH TROUBLES: What a fantastic season for Paul Lawrie, but where are the young Scots to push him on the world stage?
The 1999 Open Champion is one of the stories of the year after two wins, making a second Ryder Cup team 13 years after his debut and finishing 10th on the Race to Dubai. He is also 27th on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Martin Laird and Richie Ramsay are the other two Scots in the world top 100 at 55th and 56th respectively. Unfortunately, there seems to be a dearth of young Scottish talent coming through the amateur ranks.
Scotland placed a lowly 44th in this year’s World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey, finishing behind nations like Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Russia. That is unacceptable considering the investment in Scottish amateur golf over the years.
With promising players like James Byrne, David Law and Scott Henry still trying to find their way in the game, Lawrie’s position as top Scot seems fairly safe for now.
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5. WILL IAN POULTER HAVE PASSPORT PROBLEMS? Given how Ian Poulter rubbished America’s national pasttime recently, it wouldn’t be surprising if U.S. border guards decided to check his passport a bit more thoroughly when he arrives “home” in Orlando.
The flamboyant Englishman said on the eve of the DP World Championship in Dubai: “I’ve never watched a full game of baseball. I walk out after about five innings. It bores me tearless. You want to sit there for four and a half hours eating hot dogs and a Coke? Come on, really?”
Ouch! Not the way you talk about the national game of your adopted country, especially when you come from a land where cricket, England’s national sport, takes five endless days and can finish in a draw.