The European Tour lands in Oman this week, where the second edition of the Oman Open will take place on the Al Mouj Golf Course, which also staged the first edition.
The course is a Greg Norman design that was only built in 2012, but it also staged Challenge Tour Events in 2013 and 2014. It measures around 7,365 yards in length and is a coastal course that is expected to play similarly to many of the famous links courses in the United Kingdom.
Papsalum SeaDwarf grass that is used throughout the layout and, whilst that may be different from many links-style courses, the fact that the greens are expected to run at around 10 on the stimpmeter suggests it will suit the types of players that have fared well on links layouts rather than the more modern PGA-style layouts.
The wind could also play a big part this week on this relatively exposed terrain, whilst the sea or other forms of water hazards feature on 10 holes. The fairways are quite generous but also have a variety of waste areas and bunkers designed to catch any balls that stray too far offline.
That means the course should ideally reward players that can find plenty of fairways and a high-percentage of greens in regulation, whilst a hot putter will also be needed to convert plenty of birdie chances this week.
Last year’s winning score was 16-under par, whilst one of the winning scores in the two Challenge Tour events played here was –21, which means that a winning total somewhere between 15 to 20-under par may be required this week unless the wind causes havoc.
One major consideration this week is whether the European players that played in last week’s WGC Mexico Championships will be tired, especially in comparison to the rest of the field that enjoyed a rest last week, with many players taking the chance to rest up in Dubai which is just 250 miles away.
It will be interesting to see how that scenario plays out on the final leaderboard but, as last week’s WGC winner Dustin Johnson had endured the toughest few weeks of anyone in that field, it would seem crazy to avoid backing anyone you fancy this week that played last week.
Last year’s Oman Open winner Juist Luiten was one player that did play in Mexico last week, but his impressive final round there should have given him plenty of confidence on his return to a venue he’s already proven at. A Top-10 finish in Mexico wasn’t quite good enough to land our each-way bet but I’m happy to go in again this week despite the much shorter odds. The emphasis on finding plenty of greens in regulation is his kind of challenge and he’s also posted two top-six finishes in the Middle East already this season.
Another European Tour winner that could bounce back to form this week is Jordan Smith, as he’s also proven himself in the Middle East, be it at a lower level. Smith won on the Challenge Tour in the United Arab Emirates and, as he may well have celebrated that victory in style, his top-20 finish on this course the following week was a noteworthy effort. He also finished 26th last year, when in the middle of a poor run of form, and there’s every hope he can contend this year as he comes into the event playing much more consistently.
This drop-in-class this week also looks a decent chance for Matthew Southgate and Stephen Gallacher to potentially put in a decent showing. Neither is in particularly good form coming into the event but either or both of them could be sparked back to life on a return to a course where they finished tied ninth last year.
Southgate is a classy individual when he gets his eye in and he’s finished second in an Irish Open, sixth in the 2017 Open Championship, and fifth at last season’s French Open. Meantime, Gallacher has won a Dunhill Links and two Dubai Desert Classic Titles. However, as neither are prolific winners, it could be worth backing them to finish top-10 this week.
Oman Open 2019 Free Tips
Juist Luiten (Each-Way) @ 11.00 Betfair SB, PaddyPower, Coral
Jordan Smith (Each-Way) @ 26.00 Betfair SB, PaddyPower, Boylesports
Above each way bets pay 7 places
Matthew Southgate Top-10 @ 9.00 Betfair SB, PaddyPower, BetBright
Stephen Gallacher Top-10 @ 11.00 WilliamHill, 888Sport, Unibet