Jon Rahm began the week. He ended it by collecting all the points available at the DP World Tour Championship and taking his third title of the season and third DP World Tour Championship in the last six editions of the event.
Rahm was adamant early in the week about how beating a handful of the best players in the world at the DP World Tour Championship was more difficult than beating a whole host of average players at the RSM Classic. Rahm received 22 points for beating Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Viktor Hovland, while whoever wins the RSM later in the day on the PGA Tour side will receive 38 points.
Rahm went against his own logic and made beating the top players -- there were seven others in the field who rank in the top 30 in the OWGR -- look rather easy. After a 70-66-65 start, Rahm shot 67 on Sunday while playing alongside U.S. Open champion Fitzpatrick. Combined, those two have now won five of the last seven DP World Tour Championships.
After going out in 33, Rahm came home in 34 for the trophy. At 20 under, he beat Hatton and Alex Noren by two and McIlroy by four.
"Because of COVID I never got a chance to defend my 2019 title, and even though I decided not to come last year, I came with the mentality that, well, nobody beat me in the last two years, so they are going to have to beat me again," Rahm said.
Rahm has won this tournament now in three of the last four times he's teed it up. He is 72 under and has defeated 212 of 217 competitors in those four starts. As referenced, he did not play it in 2020 as the defending champion nor did he make it over last year for the 2021 edition.
Rahm's point about how OWGR points at the top of small-field events (there were only 50 golfers playing this week in Dubai) is legitimate. And while this is not the space to get into a deep dissection of the Official World Golf Rankings, I don't believe there should be as much disparity between points allotted to the winner of an event where you have to beat seven other top 30 players and points allotted to the winner of an event where (no matter how many golfers were in the field) Brian Harman was the favorite.
Rahm wins a LOT.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) November 20, 2022
2017: 3 OWGR wins
That's 16 in 152 total OWGR events, which is a 10.5 percent (!!) rate. You can just pencil him in for 2.5 wins a year every year. The only question is which tournaments they'll be.
Regardless, Rahm is not short on OWGR points. After taking the Mexico Open, Spanish Open and this event, he remains firmly in the top five in the world going into 2023 and has plenty of hype around him going into next year given how he finished this one. In each of the last six years, Rahm has won either two or three OWGR events. He is also the first player to win this particular event three times, and that touches off a run of seven events in 2022 in which his worst finish was T15 and the other six were in the top eight.
Rahm has primarily been buoyed by his putter during that stretch, a club that let him down earlier in 2022. This week in Dubai was no different as he finished second in the field in strokes gained putting en route to the victory.
"Honestly I cannot believe I shot 12 under with how badly I hit it off the tee on the weekend," Rahm said. "I was just able to manage really well. I think a lot of those times when I pitched out, my wedge game saved me. On the greens on the weekend, I don't know what my stats were. But inside 10 feet I was really, really, really solid, and that's always going to carry forward. Any time I was on the fairway, my iron game felt great.
"I stayed aggressive and picked my battles, and again, I think I shot as low as I could have shot on the weekend to get this one."
Despite the victory, Rahm fell short in the season-long DP World Tour points race where McIlroy, who came into this week ranked No. 1 on that list, went on to win. For McIlroy, it's his fourth season-long title on the European side to match three FedEx Cups on the PGA Tour. However, this year marks the first time McIlroy has won both season-long races in the same year.
"It's been seven years since I've last done it [on the DP World Tour]," McIlroy said. "Obviously this is my fourth one but it's been a while. I've won three FedEx Cups since the last time I won, which was the Race to Dubai back then.
"It means a lot. ... I was a model of consistency the whole way through the year. A lot of top finishes. I think my worst finish of the European Tour events I played this year was 12th at the start of the year in Abu Dhabi. A really consistent season putting in good performances. Would have been nice to get one win in there at the end of the year here. But Jon obviously played an incredible tournament and fully deserved it.
"[I'm] really proud of my year, and excited for 2023."
"I'm as complete a golfer as I feel like I've ever been, and hopefully I can continue on that path," he added.
Since 2011, there have been 22 total season-long points titles available on the DP World Tour and PGA Tour, and McIlroy has remarkably won seven of them. He finished the year with 13 top-eight finishes in his last 16 starts worldwide.
Fleetwood and Fitzpatrick rounded out the top five in Dubai as the DP World Tour season came to a close.