European Tour, 20 November 2019: Bernd Wiesberger is determined to hold off the challenge of three Ryder Cup players and the Open Champion as he aims to become Austria’s first Race to Dubai Champion at the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
The 34-year-old, who missed most of the 2018 season through injury, has enjoyed an impressive 2019 campaign, winning three times, including Rolex Series titles at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and the Italian Open.
After a tied third-place finish at last week’s Rolex Series event, the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, Wiesberger holds a 722 point advantage over Tommy Fleetwood, the champion in South Africa last Sunday, in the Race to Dubai. With 2,000 Race to Dubai points on offer to the winner of the DP World Tour Championship, along with the richest first prize in tournament golf of $3million, Spaniard Jon Rahm, Champion Golfer of the Year Shane Lowry and Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick can also win the coveted title of Europe’s Number One on Sunday.
“It would be a first off, obviously. Unfortunately, we haven’t had an Austrian winner of the Race to Dubai or the overall rankings at any point. Personally it would be a huge achievement for me, something that, you know, growing up watching European Tour golf and watching legends like Seve, Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie, who himself has won so many times in a row at the time when I started getting into golf; something that looked a long distance away, but obviously much closer now,” said the Austrian.
“We are looking forward to the next four days and going to give it everything we have, and hopefully if we count up all the points at the end of Sunday, we’re still up there and it would be amazing. I’m very, very lucky right now in Austria with not only myself playing well this year but also Matthias (Schwab) doing a great job, and almost catching a couple titles this year.”
Wiesberger is the man in pole position and should he either win or finish second alone in the tournament at Jumeriah Golf Estates, he will be crowned Race to Dubai champion.
“This is my third year in a row where I’m one of those players that has a chance to win the Race to Dubai. It’s very special. There’s only a certain number of people that have the Race to Dubai on their resume and I’m lucky to be one of them. I think it’s one of my greatest achievements and I think I have experienced both sides.
“In 2017 when I won, I led it for such a long time. In 2018, I set out and it was never a goal at the start of the year to win the Race to Dubai and all of a sudden just because it was a possibility it became something that really hurt when I didn’t, but realistically, I had not thought about it all year until sort of the last few events that I had a chance.
“I just think it’s important this year that I take those experiences into it and know that it still takes a lot to do it and it’s not in my hands at all. I can only do my best this week, take one shot at a time.”
With his closest rivals needing to either win or finish second to stand any chance of overhauling him, Wiesberger could also benefit from strong performances from those outside the top five on the Race to Dubai, including World Number Two Rory McIlroy, who has twice won the DP World Tour Championship alongside four other top ten finishes in his nine appearances.
For a full analysis of the season-ending permutations, please click here.