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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Players to watch at the DP World Tour Championship


By Michael Arkush


Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick will no doubt be among the favorites for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, which started Thursday at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


Rahm has won the event three times, including in 2022 when he defeated Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren by two strokes, while McIlroy and Fitzpatrick have two victories apiece.


There are plenty of other top contenders in the 50-man field. Here are five players to keep an eye on.


Adrian Meronk


Meronk was clearly out to prove something after he wasn’t chosen by captain Luke Donald to represent Team Europe in the recent Ryder Cup matches in Rome.


Meronk, 30, of Poland, closed with a 66 last month at the Real Club de Golf Sotogrande to capture the Andalucía Masters, his third victory on the DP World Tour this season. After bogeying two of his first three holes, he went 8-under par the rest of the way to beat Matti Schmid of Germany by a stroke.


“I’m just glad the Ryder Cup and all the talks about it are over,” Meronk told the media after the tournament. “I can just focus on my game and keep going forward, and whoever doubted me, I hope I can prove them wrong.”


This year, Meronk, who went to East Tennessee State University, became the first player from Poland to make the cut in a PGA Tour event in the United States, tying for 45th at the Genesis Invitational in California. A week later, he tied for 14th at the Honda Classic in Florida.


Min Woo Lee


Many fans may not be familiar with Lee of Australia.


That, however, might be changing. He has been playing well lately, and there’s no reason he can’t keep it up.


Over his past five starts, Lee, 25 and ranked No. 43 in the world, has recorded three top 10s, including a win in the SJM Macao Open on the Asian Tour in mid-October. He tied for sixth a week later in the Zozo Championship in Japan.


In June, Lee closed with a 67 to finish in a tie for fifth in the U.S. Open. A few months before, he tied for sixth at the Players Championship in Florida.


In 2016, he won the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. His biggest professional victory has been the 2021 Scottish Open when he hit about a 10-footer on the first playoff hole to beat Fitzpatrick and Thomas Detry.


Lee’s sister, Minjee, is also a professional golfer and took the U.S. Girls’ Junior Golf Championship in 2012. When Min Woo won his title four years later, the two became the first brother and sister to win the junior titles. Minjee has won 10 times on the LPGA Tour, including the 2021 Evian Championship and the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open.


Ryan Fox


Like Lee, Fox of New Zealand isn’t exactly a marquee name, but he has had some excellent tournaments lately.


In September, Fox, ranked No. 28, rebounded from an early triple bogey to capture the BMW PGA Championship by a stroke. A few weeks later, he tied for second at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which he won in 2022. Fox, 36, has won four times on the DP World Tour.


“I certainly didn’t think I’d be talking to you (as the champion) after the third hole today,” he told Sky Sports after clinching the BMW PGA Championship win. “I’ve always struggled a little bit around here.”


He has also struggled in the major championships; he has not recorded a single Top 15 in 18 appearances.


Fox, fourth in the Race to Dubai standings, made 13 starts on the PGA Tour this past season. His best finish overall was a tie for 12th at the Genesis Scottish Open.


Tyrrell Hatton


A member of Team Europe in the Ryder Cup in Rome, Hatton, ranked No. 12, is due. He hasn’t won on the DP World Tour since the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2021.


Not that he hasn’t had his moments.


In July, he tied for sixth at the Genesis Scottish Open. A month later, he tied for 16th at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, and in September he finished a stroke behind Fox at the BMW PGA Championship.


He went 3-0-1 at the Ryder Cup, including a victory over the 2023 British Open champion Brian Harman.


Hatton, 32, from England, isn’t one to keep his emotions to himself.


“I think he’s very quiet in general,” Donald said in a news conference. “He does have a strong personality when he wants to, so there’s always a wisecrack and there’s always a joke. He beats himself up now and again on the course, but you don’t really see that off the course.”


Hatton has won six times on the DP World Tour. His lone victory on the PGA Tour came in the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational.


Robert MacIntyre


Of all the tough losses in 2023, none was tougher than MacIntyre’s loss to McIlroy in the Genesis Scottish Open.


MacIntyre of Scotland birdied No. 18 on Sunday to cap off a 64 and assume a one-stroke advantage.


McIlroy needed to birdie one of the last two holes to force a playoff.


He birdied both, knocking in about a 10-footer on 18.


“It’s a sore one to take just now because it is a dream as a Scotsman to win a Scottish Open,” said MacIntyre, who would have been the first Scot to win the tournament since Colin Montgomerie in 1999.


MacIntyre, ranked No. 57, finished with a 2-0-1 record at the Ryder Cup. In his singles match Sunday, he defeated Wyndham Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion.


MacIntyre has won twice on the DP World Tour.



Nitto ATP Finals

At Pala Alpitour, Turin, Italy

Singles

Group Stage

Sunday’s Results

Novak Djokovic (1) def. Holger Rune (8),

7-6(4), 6-7(1), 6-3

Jannik Sinner (4) def. Stefanos Tsitsipas (6),

6-4, 6-4

Monday’s Results

Daniil Medvev (3) def. Andrey Rublev (5),

6-4, 6-2

Alexander Zverev (7) def. Carlos Alcaraz

Garfia (2), 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4

Tuesday’s Results

J. Sinner def. N. Djokovic, 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2)

H. Rune def. S. Tsitsipas, 2-1 (walkover)

Wednesday’s Results

C. Alcaraz Garfia def. A. Rublev, 7-5, 6-2

D. Medvedev def. A. Zverev, 7-6(7), 6-4

Thursday’s Matches

(all times Eastern)

N. Djokovic def. Hubert Hurkacz (9), 7-6(1),

4-6, 6-1

J. Sinner v. H. Rune (4 p.m.)

Friday’s Matches

C. Alcaraz Garfia v. D. Medvedev (8:30 a.m.,

TENNIS Channel)

A. Rublev v. A. Zverev (2:30 p.m., TENNIS

Channel)

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