LOUIS ROSS’ (@LouisRoss72) return to golf action brought about a 35/1 place. Next he’s hitting up the Qatar Masters with a Wednesday mornig start.
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters | Wednesday-Saturday
Last Sunday we just needed a bit of luck to go our way rather than Rickie Fowler who chipped in twice to beat our 35/1 chance Thomas Pieters by one shot. I also managed a 5th-place for a little place money at 22/1 so let's see if we can go one better here.
The Desert Swing continues its progress around the Gulf states, moving from Abu Dhabi to Qatar. You would expect something very similar this week but we have a very different course and weather conditions. The Doha Golf Club has hosted since 1998 and a number of previous winners turn out again.
Par 72 is the score here on the 7,400 yard course. Qatar may be in the same part of the world as Abu Dhabi but the wind blows and, when it does, it can turn this place into almost a links-style course.
Look at the previous champions. Branden Grace went off at 25/1 when he triumphed last January, Sergio Garcai was 8/1 in 2014 and Chris Wood at 100/1 12 months before that.
We should be expecting constant 30-50kph winds across all four days and I think that's a help as it really forces us to look at players that handle links courses well. That at least narrows the field somewhat and my shortlist went from 30 to 12 very quickly.
I have to start with Branden Grace. I have always had an issue tipping favourites. I know most of you prefer the big odds each-way plays and I do have a couple of those but once you analyse the South African’s tournament and recent form, 7/1 (7/1 Bet365) starts to look like a betting proposition.
This column went with the favourite four times last season and we came away with three winners. Grace, as mentioned previously, is the defending champion. The last six winners here have had at least a previous Top-20 finish in Qatar, as well as coming here with a Top-10 the week before.
The last five starts for Grace read 3-8-4-4-5 finishes – that last start was in Abu Dhabi where he hit less than 50% of fairways. He mentioned last year his love for the greens here and they are of a type that does not suit everyone.
A 3rd-place at the US Open could so easily have been a win at huge odds. There’s no doubting his links ability and I will be a little bit surprised if he does not at least make the top-three this week.
Thomas Bjorn is a name that was high on my list last week where he finished a creditable 11th. A win here in 2011 and Top-11 finishes in three of four starts, Bjorn led putting stats in Abu Dhabi and obviously plays the wind extremely well. – a skill that gives you a huge edge over the field.
Thomas would love to make one more Ryder Cup and for a man who has finished 2nd in three Majors, I think he is overpriced in an average field at 55/1 (Bet365).
Thongchai Jaidee is a name I have spent as much time researching how to spell, as on his form.
Jaidee is a big name on the European Tour these days – 13 wins in Asia are backed by seven European victories. Five Top-20’s in Qatar are everything you want to see when putting your money down and 33/1 (Bet365) isn’t bad for a player who goes well in this part of the world.
George Coetzee has some really nice figures here with 2-5-12 placed finishes. He’s had some injury problems that halted his progress in 2014 but he’s come back nicely and figured in South Africa a couple of weeks back.
Along with Alex Noren, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thomas Pieters, he should be amongst a group of players for consideration.
However, instead I will turn to Joost Luiten for my last pick. I really like the big Dutchman and jumped on him in-play at 100/1 last week. Placing 3rd going into the final round, others outscored him a little before a 10th-placed from finish.
Joost is one of those picks that is much more gut feel than solid stats. Although, take a look at his form and it stands up to most. Proven links form, I will add him to the list at 33/1 (BetVictor).
We start at 3.30am on Wednesday morning, so be quick with your bets and I promise something more detailed for Dubai next week.
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters – Branden Grace to win (7/1 Bet365)
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters – Thomas Bjorn to win (55/1 each-way Bet365)
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters – Thongchai Jaidee to win (33/1 each-way Bet365)
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters – Joost Luiten to win (33/1 each-way BetVictor)
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