LOUIS ROSS (@LouisRoss67) scooped the Qatar Masters winner last week. Next he highlights the value in Dubai.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic | Thursday-Sunday | Sky Sports
It’s the third and final leg of the Desert Swing this week and we’re trying to follow up last week’s 7/1 winner Branden Grace winner.
The South African does not tee off here so we have a field led by Rory McIlroy, who goes off as a 12/5 (Sportingbet) favourite. The favourite is also the defending champion having come home in a score of 22 under par a year ago.
Emirates Golf Club is once again the venue and the par 72 Majilis Course measures some 7,319 yards. On the short side these days, this is certainly a bombers course and past winners confirm that. There are a number of doglegs and water hazards in Dubai and so the ability to shape the ball is vital.
Last year Rory was following on from champions such as Stephen Gallacher and Alvaro Quiros with winning scores ranging between -16 and -22 recently. The exception being the -11 that Quiros triumphed with in 2011.
Despite some of those low scores, this is far from an easy course. The average score in 2015 was 71 – that shows how far ahead of his field McIlroy was. On a course with flat fast greens that measure around 13 on the stimpmeter (fast), even Rory's sometimes suspect putting makes him almost worthy of that 12/5 price.
On a course where he has won multiple times and striking the ball as well as he did in Abu Dhabi, I am going to avoid the outright markets in the search for a winner. Almost everyone is betting ‘Without McIlroy' this week.
Martin Kaymer was one of my three picks in Abu Dhabi and he was a creditable 15th place. There is a theme to this piece and staying with players is it. Kaymer is one of the world’s best and stands out even in a field of this quality.
Current and course form are always a big deal for me and few have better records around here. A closing 64 last year gave the German a 4th-placed finish – pretty good. His complete record in six starts is even better – 2-4-4-31-13-4. One of the big hitters, I like 18/1 (Bet365). A lot.
Thomas Pieters (25/1 BetVictor) was a surprising name a fortnight ago but he did us proud placing at 35/1 and was an inch or so from taking Rickie Fowler to a play-off on the final hole.
The big Belgian has really come into his own in the last 12 months – 42nd on debut last year, those 72 holes included three rounds of 69. Pieters hits the ball miles and with a degree of accuracy. His occasional wayward driving will not be punished too severely on a course with wide fairways and fairly generous rough.
Pieters tees off at 08.25 on Thursday morning with Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke and my next pick Thorbjorn Olessen (25/1 Bet365). Having tied for third behind Grace in Qatar, Olessen looks to continue a good run of form which stretches back to a win in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October.
A 6th-placed finish in the Masters is a badge of honour for any player and proves that he has the ability to mix it with the best. His course experience is a huge plus as well his finishes of 5th in 2014 and 3rd last year.
I looked at a number of options for the final pick. Ross Fisher caught my eye at a big price – he has six Top-20s in eight starts here. Danny Willet has a couple of 13th-placed finishes to his name but I'm not sure of his form right now. George Coetzee is a golfer I always have an eye on but he is a bit short in the betting.
I left First Round leader picks alone because gusts of up to 50mph are expected on Thursday. If you are looking at that market, an early start and low ball flight (Kaymer?) is a good combination.
So the honour of my final pick goes to Scotsman Stephen Gallacher. The champion here in 2013 and 2014, he also has a 2nd and 3rd place to his name.
I just could not get past a price of 5/2 (Stan James) for a Top 20 finish. Nobody will play the course better and in any kind of form, that is an outstanding price.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic – Martin Kaymer without McIlroy (18/1 each-way Bet365)
Omega Dubai Desert Classic – Thomas Pieters without McIlroy (25/1 each-way BetVictor)
Omega Dubai Desert Classic – Thorbjorn Olessen without McIlroy (25/1 each-way Bet365)
Omega Dubai Desert Classic – Stephen Gallacher Top 20 Finish (5/2 Stan James)
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