Dyson and Willett eye pot of gold to end fine year on high

Graphic: Graeme Bandeira.

Graphic: Graeme Bandeira.

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When they come to reflect on 2014, both Simon Dyson and Danny Willett will do so with great satisfaction.

For both Yorkshiremen have enjoyed productive, bank-balance enhancing years on the European Tour in which they have taken a significant step towards meeting that most striven for of goals in professional sport – consistency.

Indeed, so reliable have they been on a weekly basis, that of the near 50 tournaments between them this season, they have failed to make the weekend just 11 times, and in Willett’s case, he has missed only two cuts.

Together they have recorded 13 top-10 finishes and have both made more than half a million pound in prize money.

They sit comfortably inside the top 40 on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings.

Yet over the course of their next three tournaments, the White Rose’s leading pair of professionals have the chance to turn satisfactory reflections into life-changing opportunities.

Because their exploits this year have ensured their place in the European Tour’s lucrative Final Series, when some of the world’s finest golfers will vye for a prize pot in excess of $30m.

The first of those tournaments begins today in Shanghai, with Dyson and Willett among an elite field of 78 contesting the BMW Masters for a prize pot of $7m.

Next up is the WGC-HSBC Champions event in the same city, a tournament neither are 
eligible for as the only thing missing from their 2014 ledger is a victory.

They are then back in action in a fortnight at the Turkish Airlines Open, before concluding their season the following week as part of the 60-man field at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Their place in an event that boasts an $8m prize pot with a further $5m bonus pool divided between the top 15 overall finishes, is already assured, meaning the chance to not only further their reputation but also make their fortune, is on offer over the coming weeks.

Both men’s greater consistency this year has put them within touching distance of going higher than they have ever been before, and something a win in either China, Turkey or Dubai will ensure.

Dyson, 36, has not had a win for three years, when he rose as high as 28th in the world and onto the shoulders of the elite.

Unable to push on, he dropped as low as 162nd last summer before the bottom nearly fell out of his entire career with the rules breach storm he found himself embroiled in at the BMW Masters last October.

Now free of that controversy and eager to ‘rectify a few things’ as he put it in an interview in The Yorkshire Post earlier this month, Dyson looks in his steadiest form for some time.

That the Malton man sits eight places above Willett in the order of merit owes much to his second-place finish at the KLM Dutch Open earlier this summer.

That performance trumped anything the 27-year-old from Sheffield has managed, though he has cashed cheques more frequently than his fellow Yorkshireman this year.

Willett’s one win though remains that breakthrough at the BMW International Open in Cologne in June 2012 on his way to a career high of 74 in the world.

As well as his consistency this year, Willett has also increased his presence in the tournaments that matter most, namely the majors.

He played in the US Open, Open and the PGA this year, making the cut in the two grand slam tournaments in America when profiles are raised most.

Willett arrives in China having withdrawn after the first round of the Perth International in Australia last week, purely as a precaution over the back injury that he has managed for the last 18 months.

Yorkshire’s duo are not the only two chasing the pot of gold on offer out east over the next month.

English Ryder Cup players Justin Rose and Ian Poulter are among those hoping to make significant gains from this week onwards.

World No 6 and former US Open champion Rose said: “The bonus pool runs deep down to 15th and I want to strengthen my world ranking as much as possible.

“If I can play well and maybe win a couple of tournaments between now and the end of the season, I could probably get up to second in the world, which would be a personal best. So there’s always something to play for.”

Poulter is currently 64th on the Race to Dubai standings, and at present, outside the top 60 who make up the field of the World Tour Championship in United Arab Emirates from November 20-23.

He has posted just one top-five in his limited starts on the European Tour this season, that result coming in China, which gives hims hope of a happy return.

Poulter said: “I’ve played well on this golf course in the past, so I’m looking forward to getting going.”

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