and No. 1 Luke Donald were
paired early in Dubai.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES |
George O’Grady, the CEO of the
European Tour, announced that the
next three editions of what will become
known as the DP World Tour Championship, will return to Jumeirah Golf
Estates, with the prize-fund increasing
by $500,000 to a total of $8 million.
He said that details of the bonus pool,
which was $7.5 million this year, would
be announced later as it was entirely
possible that other sponsors might
come on board. Apparently, they have $4
million in the bag at the moment.
Some worry that the money has not
crept closer to the $10 million tournament prize-fund and $10 million bonus
pool which was initially attached to the
event. Given the financial climate, others, including plenty of players, believe
they should be more than grateful for
what is on offer.
O’Grady was reassuring when it
came to the number of tournaments on
next year’s schedule. Instead of losing
tournaments, he almost has too many
tournaments vying for too few weeks.
The sight of Luke Donald and Rory
McIlroy, respectively the world No. 1 and
No. 2, being photographed side by side
at the start of the Dubai World Cham-
pionship prompted memories of Tiger
Woods’ words from 2009.
Westwood, winner of the recent
Nedbank Challenge, turned down the
volume on his state-of-the-art phone
before finding the bit of film he was
happy to show round. “I swear in it,” he
The clips were of Lee lifting weights
to the tune of 270 kilograms (595
pounds) – and then lightening his load
for a routine that included a series of
seriously demanding squats. Entirely
enough to prompt the odd oath.
Stephen McGregor, Westwood’s
trainer, said that as recently as five
years ago, Lee couldn’t pick up too
much more than a pint. However, little
by little, they have built up the player’s
strength to the point where he can lift
virtually twice his body weight.
Thursday, following his opening 66,
McIlroy said that whatever the illness
was that he contracted in the wake of
the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, he was using it to take the pressure
off himself. “I’m sort of like, I’m not 100
percent and if it doesn’t quite happen
(winning the Dubai World Championship and the Race to Dubai), there’s
nothing I can do about it,” McIlroy said.
When, later that same evening,
blood tests revealed the possibility of a
mild dose of mosquito-borne Dengue
Fever, there was presumably even less
pressure to perform.
But in another area, there was more.
If, having won in Hong Kong, he went on
to win again, he would be deemed en-
tirely fit enough to fly on to Thailand for
what would be his 13th straight week
away. The contract may have included
some £500,000 in appearance money
but that, assuredly, was neither here
Thomas Levet, who lost half the
season when he broke his leg after
jumping into the water at the French
Open, was delighted when a French
journalist devoted an article to a series
of similarly daft sporting mishaps.
Levet’s favourite concerned the
French club rugby player who was
made Man of the Match after the finest
tackling display of his life. Yet, when, on
the walk back to the pavilion, he made
to toss the ball to the coach, he slipped
and cracked his ankle – and was out of
the game for the rest of the year.
Darren Clarke may not have
played particularly well since Royal St
George’s but he continues to revel in
the many and varied repercussions to
his Open triumph. A