The DP World Tour Championship, which gets underway on Thursday at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, has provided its share of suspense since its inaugural event in 2009.
It’s no surprise given the caliber of the 50-player field. This year will feature seven of the top 15 in the world rankings, including No. 2 Rory McIlroy, who clinched his fifth Race to Dubai title on Sunday, and No. 3 Jon Rahm.
Below, in chronological order, are five tournaments that came down to the last hole.
Robert Karlsson of Sweden was the winner, but what happened to Ian Poulter of England also stood out.
On the second playoff hole, Poulter was assessed a one-stroke penalty for dropping his ball on his marker, causing it to move. He finished with a bogey on the hole, while Karlsson, who picked up his 11th DP World Tour victory, made a birdie.
Poulter had missed a birdie putt to win it in regulation.
“Six inches short of the hole, I would have probably put my house on it,” he said afterward, “but it slows down and takes a little bit of grain and misses. Obviously a little disappointed, and it was a shame it’s just ended the way it has.”
Leading by two strokes with two holes to go, the tournament, in all likelihood, belonged to McIlroy.
Until he found the water with his tee shot on 17 and soon faced a 35-foot putt for a bogey. Still, he knocked it in and parred 18 for a one-shot victory over Andy Sullivan.
“The tee shot was 40 yards off line,” McIlroy said at the time. “It was just a horrendous golf shot. I didn’t like the shot, and I wasn’t very happy with myself, but I was able to get over it quick enough to hole that putt. It seems like the more pressure I’m under or the more it means, the better I putt, which is a nice thing to have.”
Four feet must have seemed as long as 40 feet for Matt Fitzpatrick, who needed to make the birdie putt for the win.
“The 18th green was the most nervous I’ve been over a four-foot putt,” he told reporters. “You need to pull it off, and fortunately, so far so good. It won’t always work out that way.”
Late in the final round, Fitzpatrick trailed Tyrrell Hatton by a shot. Hatton, however, found the water with his drive on 18, leading to a bogey that paved the way for Fitzpatrick, who hit his second shot on the par 5 into a bunker and chipped up close to set up the winning putt.
At one stage in the final round, Tommy Fleetwood was eight strokes behind Rahm.
It looked over, but it wasn’t.
Fleetwood made six birdies from then on to shoot a seven-under 65 while Rahm was, all of a sudden, off his game. He needed a birdie at 18 to put Fleetwood away.
After a huge drive, he hit his four-iron approach into the bunker. He chipped it to within four feet and made the putt.
“Those first seven holes, I felt like I couldn’t miss a shot. My putting was unbelievable. Then just one errant tee shot and a three-putt kind of took everything in the wrong direction,” Rahm said afterward. “It made me show some determination and grit and heart just to win,” he added.
Fitzpatrick prevailed for a second time, by a shot over Lee Westwood, knocking in a three-footer for par on the 72nd hole. After hitting his drive into the rough, Fitzpatrick chipped back onto the fairway and found the putting surface with his third.
Westwood, who was 47 years old at the time, also had reason to celebrate, securing the Race to Dubai. He won the European money title in 2000 — it was known then as the Order of Merit — and again in 2009.
“It was a great finish,” Westwood told reporters. “I sat there watching it — it’s always exciting this tournament, coming down the stretch and there’s always thrills and spills.”