Sweden’s Alex Noren defeated Australia’s Scott Hend in a play-off to claim his second Omega European Masters after a thrilling finish at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland. The win saw the 34-year-old gain 450,000 points to move from 12th to eighth position in the European Tour Race to Dubai rankings with 1,546,738 points for the season – his spot in DP World Tour Championship, taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 November, already assured.
Race to Dubai rankings front-runner Danny Willett extended his lead by finishing tied 12th and gaining 40,905 points bringing him to a total of 3,209,845.
Noren birdied the first extra hole from 25 feet to claim his second European Tour title of the season – having won the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in July – and the sixth of his career, after the pair had finished tied on 17 under par.
Noren, who also won the tournament in 2009, posted a scintillating front nine of 30, which included four birdies in a row, and led by two with four holes remaining.
But a birdie from the Australian on 15 and a bogey from the Swede when he three putted the 17th saw them tee up on the last all-square.
It was advantage Noren when he split the fairway after Hend hooked his tee shot into the trees, but the 43-year-old took on the brave recovery shot and was rewarded when his approach pitched 10 yards short of the green and bounced over the water.
Hend got up and down from the back of the green for par and when Noren could not convert a long birdie attempt, the pair returned to the 18th for the first hole of sudden death.
After again hooking his drive into the trees but seeing the ball bounce back onto the fairway, Hend only just cleared the water with his approach before chipping to five feet, but Noren clinched the win by holing his long birdie attempt.
Hend’s runner-up finish won him 300,000 points which saw him move from 26th to 17th in the Race to Dubai rankings and now has a season-total of 1,009,487.
England’s Danny Willett remains on top of the Race to Dubai rankings, with a total of 3,168,940 points, whilst 2013 and 2014 DP World Tour Championship winner Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is in second with 3,130,447points.
Reigning Race to Dubai champion Ireland’s McIlroy sits in third place with 2,487,204 points. Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello is in fourth with a total of 1,804,178 points and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen rounds up the top five with a season-total of 1,693,329.
General admission to the DP World Tour Championship is free of charge. For more information please visit www.DPWorldTourChampionship.com.
The qualifying events for this year's competition take place in September.
The competition, which launches in September, will see golfers competing for this ‘money can’t buy’ golfing experience.
A total of 22 qualifying events will take place at 21 golf clubs across the UAE with the winner of each event taking their place in a Grand Final at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Sunday 23 October.
Two members of the UAE National Golf Team will also be invited through the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) to compete in the Grand Final, making a total of 24 players.
The winner of that event will be awarded a once in a lifetime opportunity to play alongside the likes of defending champion and double reigning Race to Dubai winner, Rory McIlroy and British Open champion Henrik Stenson, in the Rolex sponsored Pro-Am which takes place on the Earth course two days before the Race to Dubai’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship gets underway from Thursday 17 November to Sunday 20 November.
“We are thrilled that more than 1,000 golfers from all over the UAE will take part in 22 events this September to be in with a chance to play with one of the top players on the European Tour,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai Office.
“Our Luckiest Ball on Earth competition is proving to be a bigger and more spirited spectacle every year and we wish the participants the best of luck as they chase that coveted place in the DP World Tour Championship Pro-Am. Our thanks and appreciation go to all of the clubs as well as to the Emirates Golf Federation for its continued support of the Luckiest Ball on Earth.”
The DP World Tour Championship sees the top 60 players on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai competing for a prize fund of US$8 million plus a Bonus Pool of US$5 million split between the top 10 finishers on the Race to Dubai following the conclusion of the tournament.
Now in its sixth year, the Luckiest Ball on Earth competition has proven to be a hit with the UAE’s amateur golfers since the initiative was first launched in 2011. The annual competition is open to all golfers aged 18 or over who hold an Official Club Handicap recognised by the EGF (maximum 28 for men and 36 for ladies).
Arabian Ranches Golf Club member Kevin Barrett of Northern Ireland won the inaugural Luckiest Ball on Earth competition and played alongside Ryder Cup icon Edoardo Molinari in the Pro-Am before Italy’s Ornella Parigi of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club became the first female winner in 2012 and lined up with Australia’s Marcus Fraser.
In 2013, former Dubai Creek Lady Captain Maureen Platt saw off all comers to earn a place alongside Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen in the Pro-Am while in 2014 Dipesh Makwana came out on top against almost 1000 hopefuls to be teamed up with Race to Dubai runner-up Danny Willett. Last year, Jairaj Gorsia was victorious and was given an unforgettable experience in the Pro-Am playing with England’s James Morrison.
General admission tickets for the DP World Tour Championship are free of charge and can be obtained by registering online at www.DPWorldTourChampionship.com. Those who register will also be placed into a prize draw with the chance to win a pair of VIP Hospitality tickets for the Championship Chalet.
2016 LUCKIEST BALL ON EARTH QUALIFYING EVENTS – VENUES AND DATES:
VENUE EMIRATE DATE Al Zorah Golf Club Ajman – 2 September Al Dhafra Golf Club Abu Dhabi – 2 September Arabian Ranches Golf Club Dubai – 2 September Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club Sharjah – 2 September Al Badia Golf Club Dubai – 2 September Dubai Creek Golf Club & Yacht Club Dubai – 3 September Abu Dhabi Golf Club Abu Dhabi – 3 September Saadiyat Beach Golf Club Abu Dhabi – 9 September Yas Links Abu Dhabi – 9 September The Address Montgomerie Dubai Dubai – 16 September Al Ghazal Golf Club Abu Dhabi – 16 September Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club Al Ain – 23 September Emirates Golf Club – Men Dubai – 23 September The Track Meydan Dubai – 23 September Abu Dhabi City Golf Club Abu Dhabi – 23 September The Els Club Dubai – 23 September Jumeirah Golf Estates Dubai – 24 September Al Hamra Golf Club Ras Al Khaimah – 24 September Tower Links Golf Club Ras Al Khaimah – 24 September Emirates Golf Club – Ladies Dubai – 26 September Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa Dubai – 29 September Sharjah Wanderers Golf Club Sharjah – 30 September