Valuable Ryder Cup Points are an added incentive at this week’s Dubai Desert Classic, and most of Europe’s best players are playing. The market is headed by Rory McIlroy at around 9/2, with bookies also offering single-figure quotes about last year’s Champion Sergio Garcia. Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick should mean this is no certainty for the market-leaders though, whilst there are a few old horses for courses who could easily make a resurgence now they return to a familiar layout.
The Dubai Desert Classic was first played in 1989, and the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club is a par 72 that measures a little over 7,300 yards. Wide fairways mean accuracy off the tee isn’t paramount, and the rough usually isn’t that penal even for wayward shots. However, the leaderboard is usually full of players who can hit it a long way. Meanwhile, the Bermuda grass greens usually run at around 12 on the Stimpmeter.
If you’re betting in running, then the back-9 (with three par-5s) usually plays easier than the front-9, with the sixth, eighth and ninth holes often playing in the top few hardest holes. The wind often blows too, and can often favour one-side of the draw.
After finishing third in Abu Dhabi, Rory McIlroy will have plenty of supporters this week, and 9/2 looks perfectly acceptable considering he’s won 2 of the last 7 renewals, and finished inside the top-10 in the other 5.
However, Sergio Garcia may be one to duck as he tries to defend a title for the first time, whilst he also doesn’t win back-to-back very often, and arrives here after a win in Singapore.
The first player going in this week’s portfolio though is Henrik Stenson, who looked ready to win when finishing eighth last week. He’s also got plenty of course form, finishing in the top-8 between 2006 and 2010, and finishing sixth and second in the last two renewals.
Tyrell Hatton may also continue his trending performances here after finishing eighth and third in 2016 and 2017, and he’ll be keen to quickly make up the ground he lost on the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick last week after finishing fifteenth whilst his Ryder Cup rivals finished first and third.
I’m also going to give Robert Rock and Alvaro Quiros a chance in the Top-10 market, Rock finished 7/5/9 between 2013 and 2015, whilst 2011 winner Quiros also finished fourth here in 2016.