Once again, the Fortinet Threat Score holes played an important role in forging exciting DP World Tour action at the season finale in Dubai.
Trailing by four strokes entering the weekend, Jon Rahm made 13 birdies in his last two rounds to claim a two-stroke victory over a strong field. These three holes proved challenging even for the former world number one: three of Rahm’s four bogeys all week came on the Fortinet Threat Score holes.
With the win, Rahm became the first ever three-time winner of the DP World Tour Championship, and a nine-time winner on the DP World Tour overall.
Combined, the top-six players on the leaderboard played the Fortinet Threat Score holes in a combined six-over-par, with only Alex Noren (-3) playing them at par or better. Often, championships can be decided not with birdie, but with saving par or bogey on an especially challenging hole.
Difficulty Rank: 1st (+0.22)
The closing hole on the front nine this week played as the most difficult on the course, averaging 0.22 strokes over par. Finding the fairway was valuable here, with just 45% of the field finding the short grass off the tee for the tournament. Overall, hitting the fairway with the drive was worth one-quarter of a stroke, the second highest such value of any tee shot all week.
From there, it didn’t get much easier. Less than 58% of players found this green in regulation, the lowest rate of any hole on the course. The field averaged more than 42 feet from the hole on approach shots here, the second highest number of the week. A quality approach shot at the ninth was worth its weight in gold: at about three-tenths of a stroke, it was the most valuable on the Earth Course. It’s no wonder our champion, Rahm, made two bogeys and no birdies here for the week.
Difficulty Rank: 2nd (+0.21)
The fourth, a long par three listed at 245 yards on the scorecard, played as the second toughest hole of the week (+0.21 strokes to par). Yielding the longest approach shot on the course, players averaged more than 50 feet away from the hole, by far the highest average proximity at the Earth Course for the tournament – a full eight feet longer than anywhere else. In turn, players averaged 1.95 putts per green in regulation, the highest rate of any hole.
The top-ten finishers this week combined to play the fourth hole 40 times. They made just five birdies.
Difficulty Rank: 3rd (+0.13)
The toughest hole on the back nine – and third toughest overall – was the par four 12th (+0.13 strokes to par). A missed fairway here was worth more than four-tenths of a stroke, well above average for the week. From there, just 60 percent of the field found the green in two, the third-lowest average of any hole at the Earth Course for the championship.
The average approach proximity for the field here was more than 40 feet away – the fourth toughest. How about putting? This elite field averaged a paltry 1.86 putts per green in regulation at the 12th this week, ranking fifth in difficulty for the tournament. Essentially, everything about the hole played tougher than most, adding up to a stern test at the 12th.
By navigating these three holes in one over par for the week, Jon Rahm was able to limit the damage on the most difficult tests the Earth Course provides. He seized his more scorable opportunities elsewhere – playing the other 15 holes in 21-under-par to get the victory.