Jbe Ready To Rock In Dubai
The final event of the Asian Tour takes place in the Els Club in Dubai Sports City where Tommy Fleetwood is heavy favourite to claim the title.
The European and PGA Tours are entering their brief winter break, and this weekend also sees the final event on the 2014 Asian Tour. This is the first staging of the Dubai Open, and although the prize money is a modest $500,000, the event has attracted thirty Asian Tour winners, along with one or two Europeans and South Africans.
This is the first professional tournament to be staged at the Els Club in Dubai Sports City, a par-72 lay out that is part traditional parkland and part links, albeit without the howling Atlantic or North Sea gales. At 7528 yards, its one of the longest courses in the world, but there’s plenty of room off the tee and the rough is minimal.
The main challenge is offered by the tricky greens, some of which have Augusta-style drop-off areas to punish wayward approach shots. Accurate iron play will be key.
In The Bunker
Tommy Fleetwood made the top five at the Thailand Golf Championships, his fifth top-fifteen finish in recent weeks, to continue his good late season form. But as in Dubai, he threw in one bad round to spoil his chances, and this inconsistency makes him a risky proposition at short odds.
In the absence of most of the Europeans, he is the clear antepost favourite this week, but at 9/2 I think he’s too short.
Like Tommy Fleetwood, South African Jbe Kruger also let himself down with one poor round in his last outing, at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, where a 75 on Saturday undid the good work of two sub-70 opening rounds. But unlike the favourite, Kruger is available at a decent price to compensate for any inconsistency.
Last week’s top-twenty finish followed a solid fourth at the Cape Town Open, and at 16/1 in a weak field, he offers plenty of value.
It could also be worth taking a chance on young American Paul Peterson. In his first year on the Asian tour, he has bagged eight top-twenty finishes and has been in particularly good form in the last few weeks, breaking into the top five at the Manila Masters and the King’s Cup. Last week in Thailand he recovered from a poor third round to mount a late charge to finish in tenth position and if he can carry that momentum forward to Dubai, could be an interesting bet at 20/1.
The final name to add to your shortlist is Shiv Kapur. He’s had a quiet season and has slipped down the Order of Merit, but he will be determined to finish the year on a high and his stats offer some encouragement. He ranks in the top ten for Stroke Average, Number of Birdies and most importantly at this tricky course, Greens In Regulation. At 20/1 he could be a lively contender this week.