Stenson To Halt McIlroy Bandwagon In Dubai
Dubai Desert Classic
Rory McIlroy will have his faitful supporters out in force in Dubai this weekend but can he produce the goods in a field which consists of all of the top Europeans?
The Dubai Desert Classic is the third leg of the European Tour’s Desert Swing, and the oldest tournament of the three, being the first European Tour event to be staged in the Middle East. Generous appearance fees help to attract the top names and this event has been won by some of the biggest players in golf, including Tiger Woods, who’s won it twice, and three-time champion, Ernie Els.
Aside from the 1999 and 2000 editions, this event has been held at the Majlis course of the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai since its inception. As with the Qatar Masters last week, this is a course for big drivers, and accuracy from the tee is not crucial. Another similarity to Doha is the possibility of strong winds, particularly in the afternoons, so steer clear of golfers who struggle in windy conditions.
In The Bunker
Those who opposed Rory McIlroy at 4/1 in the Abu Dhabi Championships had a bit of a scare as he finished a shot behind the winner Gary Stal, and given that he hasn’t finished outside the top ten in this event in his last five visits, you might be tempted to jump on the McIlroy bandwagon.
But with most of the top Europeans turning out in Dubai this week, competition should be fierce and if you didn’t back him at 4/1 a fortnight ago, you should resist the temptation at 10/3 this week.
Like the antepost favourite, Henrik Stenson has a good record in this event, securing five consecutive top tens from 2006 to 2010, including his victory in 2007.
He finished last season with a bang by landing the Tour Championship, and although he started 2015 by missing the cut in Abu Dhabi, he shook off the winter cobwebs with his final round of 66 in Qatar. If that strong finish signals a return to the form he showed last autumn, then he could be hard to beat in Dubai. Back him at 12/1.
Following a tournament win, most players cease to be good betting propositions as the market adjusts to their obvious display of form, but there are occasions when winners can still offer value next time out, and Branden Grace is a good example. Those who stuck with him were rewarded in Qatar, and it’s a surprise to find him available at decent odds this week. His current form is at the level he showed in 2012 when he won back-to-back January titles, and he’s worth backing again at 25/1.
The final name to add to your shortlist is Bernd Wiesberger. Last year he broke into the top ten of this event for the first time and has kicked off 2015 in fine style. He finished sixth in Abu Dhabi and a thoroughly consistent performance in Qatar last week earned him a third place. He’s worth a look at 28/1.