5 Memorable Moments from the DP World Tour
The DP World Tour, known for many years as the European Tour, will wrap up its 2022 season with this week’s DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The field includes world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, former No. 1 Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Matt Fitzpatrick, the reigning United States Open champion.
The tour, which began play with the Spanish Open in April 1972, has featured its share of dramatic tournaments and dynamic winners, with marquee names from all over the world.
Below are five tournaments, one from each 10-year span over the past half century. While these are, by no means, the five best tournaments, they are worthy of being singled out.
1976 Dutch Open
At 19, Seve Ballesteros of Spain captured the first of a record 50 European Tour victories when he beat Howard Clark by eight strokes at Kennemer Golf and Country Club in Zandvoort, the Netherlands.
Only a month earlier, Ballesteros had made quite a run in the British Open, tying for second behind Johnny Miller.
In the Dutch Open, he started out strong with a 65. After a 73 on the second day, he rebounded with a 68 to seize the lead with 18 holes to go. A 69 on the last day sealed the deal.
Ballesteros would go on to win the tour’s Order of Merit — the then-equivalent of the money title on the PGA Tour in the United States — that year, the youngest player to accomplish that feat. He would capture at least one tournament on the European Tour in every season from 1976 through 1992.
He was charismatic and had an incredible ability to recover from practically any position on the golf course. Ballesteros, who won the British Open three times and the Masters twice, died of cancer in 2011.
1989 Portuguese Open
Similar to Ballesteros, the first European Tour victory by Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, another player headed for great success, turned out to be a rout.
Thanks to a final-round 63, which included a 40-foot downhill putt on No. 2, Montgomerie won by 11 strokes over three contenders, the largest margin of victory on the tour in more than five years. The 63 also set a new course record.
Montgomerie, who had been the Rookie of the Year in 1988, captured his second tour victory in 1991 when he defeated Ballesteros by a shot at the Scandinavian Masters and posted his third victory at the Heinken Dutch Open in 1993.
From then on, Montgomerie couldn’t be stopped.
He captured eight Order of Merit titles from 1993 to 2005. He also came through in one Ryder Cup after another. From 1991 through 2006, he went undefeated in singles, beating such major winners as Payne Stewart, Ben Crenshaw, Lee Janzen and David Toms twice.
The only blemish was his inability to win a major tournament. He had his chances, losing in a playoff in the 1994 United States Open and finishing second in 1997 and 2006. He lost another playoff in 1995 at the P.G.A. Championship and in 2005 finished second in the British Open.
1998 Johnnie Walker Classic
Ernie Els of South Africa, the defending champion and No. 3 player in the world, was up by a shot over Nick Faldo of England and two over Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand going into the final round.
Tiger Woods, the world No. 1, trailed Els by eight strokes. As remarkable as Woods was, the deficit appeared to be insurmountable.
Woods, who had been 11 shots back after 36 holes, recorded a seven-under 65, while Els imploded with a 73. On the second playoff hole, Woods made a 14-foot birdie putt for the victory.
He had been in the clubhouse for a couple of hours while Els was still on the course.
“I was pretty nervous on the greens because I hadn’t had any practice putting,” Woods said afterward. “When I warmed up, I hit the ball as hard as I could to get the adrenaline in my system going.”
Els had barely missed a 15-footer on the first playoff hole that would have ended it right there.
“I had a chance on Saturday to close it out,” Els said, “but did not take it. It’s just one of those things. Maybe next time.”
For Woods, it was another sign of what was to come.
“I’ve never done anything like that as a professional,” Woods said, referring to his comeback. “It was pretty amazing.”
2012 DP World Tour Championship
Three months after capturing his second major title, the P.G.A. Championship, McIlroy came through with a nearly flawless performance at the DP World Tour’s season finale in Dubai.
McIlroy posted rounds of 66, 67, 66 and 66 to beat Justin Rose of England by two strokes. Rose was outdone by McIlroy, who birdied the final five holes. That included a 20-footer on No. 16 and a 6-footer on No. 17.
With the victory, McIlroy set a record for earnings in a single season on the European Tour. He also won the money title in the United States that year.
“I knew I needed to do something special over the closing few holes,” McIlroy said afterward. “I really couldn’t have wished for a better ending.”
Rose, who was No. 7 in the rankings, recorded four birdies and an eagle over the final six holes. His attempt for an eagle from the top of the ridge on No. 18 showed a wonderful touch. The ball almost came to a halt before it rolled to tap-in range.
“I knew it was hero or zero there,” Rose said. “I was one roll away from looking like an idiot.”
2021 Betfred British Masters
In his first 477 appearances on the European Tour, Richard Bland of England failed each time to pick up the victory. The closest he had come was in the 2002 Irish Open, when he lost in a playoff.
Bland, 48, who had 31 top 10s on the tour, was running out of time.
And then it happened.
Bland, who shot a final-round six-under 66, which included a 25-foot birdie on 18, out dueled Guido Migliozzi of Italy on the first playoff hole. Bland, who recorded only one bogey the whole week, became the oldest first-time winner in the tour.
Only three years earlier, Bland had been relegated from the European Tour to the Challenge Tour, which is considered the minor circuit.
Some players might have packed it in at that point. He didn’t.
“I went back to the Challenge Tour because I had nothing else to do for the four years until I turned 50,” he said after his win. “I just got my head down and did the job.”
Bland, who signed with the LIV Tour, hasn’t won since, though he was a surprise co-leader at the halfway mark of the 2021 U.S. Open. He struggled on the weekend, finishing in a tie for 50th.