World No 1 Jon Rahm opts to stay at home rather than compete at the DP World Tour Championship after a turbulent year… as Padraig Harrington and Andy Sullivan just miss out on the season-ending event
- John Rahm has become a father and World No 1 in 2021 – and got Covid-19 twice
- However, the news is a blow to DP World after their lucrative deal with the tour
- Rahm’s decision gives Collin Morikawa and Billy Horschel a good chance to win
- Padraig Harrington and Andy Sullivan also won’t be there after missing the cut
Following a day of high drama in the desert, the story should have been all about Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington and Englishman Andy Sullivan, and their desperate hard luck in missing out on this week’s season-ending finale, the DP World Tour Championship.
Instead, the focal point proved to be another man who will be absent for rather more contentious reasons, as world No 1 Jon Rahm confirmed he has opted to stay at home in Arizona rather than take his place as the leading attraction.
Naturally, the Spaniard has sound reasons. What a year he has had, from winning his first major, becoming a father, contracting Covid-19 twice — while his back must still be weary from carrying Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
Jon Rahm has chosen to stay at home rather than play at the DP World Tour Championship
The Spaniard won his first major at the U.S. Open in June and became World No 1 this year
‘The long season with my ups and downs has taken a lot out of me,’ conceded Rahm (below), in a statement.
The timing, however, could hardly have been worse. It is less than a week ago that DP World publicly committed to a ‘game-changing’ contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the tour. And the main man is missing, despite having last played on October 17, and only letting everyone know now?
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley did his utmost to persuade Rahm to travel before publicly adopting a conciliatory stance that was the only realistic option.
‘I talked to Jon and fully appreciate just how physically and mentally drained he is after an incredibly demanding year,’ he told Sportsmail.
Rahm has played in this week’s event on three occasions and finished 1,4,1. Presently third in this year’s Race to Dubai, his absence increases the likelihood of one of the two man ranked above him — Collin Morikawa and Billy Horschel — becoming the first American to win the formerly-named Order of Merit.
At the Aviv Dubai Championship yesterday, the last event of the regular season, the title went to Dane Joachim Hansen but much of the focus was on those players trying to squeeze into the top 54 who will play in the DP event this week, or others with the more humble ambition of the top 121 to retain their full playing rights.
Take Harrington and Sullivan. When the 50-year-old Irishman made a miraculous up and down from a greenside bunker to birdie the 18th, he was projected to move up to 53rd in the rankings.
Padraig Harrington and Andy Sullivan agonisingly missed the cut for the season-ending event
When he walked out of the recorder’s room, he had fallen to 54th. Ten minutes later, it was 57th, and another bitter moment in a two month spell full of them.
Then there was Sullivan. The 34-year-old Midlander punched the air with glee when he eagled the 18th to play the final five holes in six under par. He was third in the event at the time and projected for 52nd place in the Race to Dubai. Some solace at the end of a frustrating campaign? Alas, no. He, too, would fall, to an agonising 55th.
Fate smiled more kindly on Scot David Drysdale, who started the week in 122nd place and appeared certain to lose his full privileges when he missed the cut by one.
But Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed didn’t fulfil their quota of events, meaning they dropped out of the rankings, thereby promoting 46-year-old Drysdale by two spots. The veteran was safe for another year.