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Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Thought We Were in China...

But it sounds more like South Africa. Louis Oosthuizen's assault on Mission Hills finally slowed a bit -- as I write this, he's only -1 for 8 holes, -17 for the tournament -- but now Ernie Els is after him. Ernie is -4 for the day, also after 8 holes, and -15 in all.

The South Africans are separating themselves from the field a bit. Lee Westwood is -6 for the day, getting to -13 after 10 holes, and players like Jason Dufner, Ian Poulter, Phil Mickelson, and Martin Kaymer are within a couple of shots of Lee. But the sprint is clearly on, and the South Africans are the fastest.

Although so many players are scoring low, it's Ernie and Louis that interest me the most here. This event has the biggest purse in these Race to Dubai "playoffs" -- other than the finale, of course --and, at $1.2million (about €935,599), that's enough to get both South Africans back in the running. Currently Rory leads with €3,407,300, while Louis is fifth with €1,887,506 and Ernie is ninth with €1,756,971.

But Rory's not playing this week. If my figures are right, that gives Ernie a chance to get within €800,000 (around €2.6million) and Louis within €600,000 (around €2.8million). And with four events left -- including the big DP World Tour Championship, the finale in Dubai -- I think that's doable. Before this week I never thought second place had a chance, let alone fifth and ninth!

This should make Rory think twice about having chosen to skip this event. After all, both men seem to just now be hitting their stride. And ironically, the last event before the Dubai finale takes place in South Africa.

I thought we were in China, but the Race to Dubai may end up going through South Africa... in more ways than one.

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