Danny Willett aiming to emulate Henrik Stenson by retaining DP World Tour Championship title

England's Danny Willett poses with the trophy after he won the DP World Tour Championship golf tournament in Dubai (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
England's Danny Willett poses with the trophy after he won the DP World Tour Championship golf tournament in Dubai (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Rory McIlroy and Yorkshire’s Danny Willett are hoping to sign off their impressive personal 2019 campaigns in style at the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

World No 2 McIlroy has won four times globally during the calendar year, including on his most recent start in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, while defending champion Willett backed up his win 12 months ago with a second Rolex Series title in the BMW PGA Championship in September.

Danny Willett: Held off a challenge from Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed to win last year.

Danny Willett: Held off a challenge from Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed to win last year.

Like Willett, McIlroy has previous success at Jumeriah Golf Estates, having claimed the title in 2012 and 2015 with a further five top-10 finishes in his nine appearances.

McIlroy goes into the week in sixth place on the Race to Dubai, 2,039.1 points behind leader Bernd Wiesberger. With 2,000 points going to the winner of this event, McIlroy is unable to add to his three Race to Dubai titles, but he is targeting a 15th European Tour title and with it the US$3 million winner’s cheque – the richest first prize in tournament golf.

That is also the aim for Willett, who won by two shots from Matt Wallace and Patrick Reed last year, as he seeks to become the first player since Henrik Stenson in 2013 and 2014 to defend the title.

Sheffield’s former Masters champion Willett said: “It’s always nice to come back and defend anywhere in the world.

Obviously, after everything that happened with injuries last year, it was a pretty special moment to win the title, especially with all the family and friends here.

Danny Willett

“Obviously, after everything that happened with injuries last year, it was a pretty special moment to win the title, especially with all the family and friends here.

“The bigger the event and the bigger the emotion, it always makes it feel even better.”