Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Qatar goes ahead...for the golf !


We had a very exciting tournament in Abu Dhabi last week where Pablo Larrazabal emerged victorious down the stretch over Major winners, Rory McIlroy & Phil Mickelson. Rory can feel unlucky by having a two shot penalty awarded to him in round 3, but whatever the rule may be, thems are the rules folks and a touring pro, never mind a Major winner, or multiple Major winner, or multi-dollar amassing superstar, should know better and indeed if his caddy is being paid, so too should his caddy. I find it incredulous that this incident was either controversial or indeed a "silly rule", its a rule we as as golf spectators and players alike know well. I can see many tournaments slowing down now with many players asking for a referee for every "situation" arising which does not do the game any good. Its time players and their backroom staff faced up to their roles and responsibilities of playing on tour and for big money and endorsements. I love Rory McIlroy, but I don't want to hear him or his fellow professionals complaining and bemoaning rules infringements. God knows I make enough  mistakes myself both in my personal and business life,and if I don't do my job properly, my employer can take disciplinary action to correct it before getting rid of me. Silly it may be for sure, the rule,and golf has plenty of them, but it was broken. Sergio Garcia was also called into question about tapping the green, as a result of TV viewer calling a discrepancy, but he was exonerated...in the end after discussion. Are we seeing the tag "gentlemen's game" being slowly removed from the game? Let's hope not, nothing untoward happened at the tournament (nor vast majority of the time)and Pablo Larrazabal emerged a worthy champion. So then, whats in store for this week?



 My headline pick is the same as the pick as I made last year, who coincidentally picked up a penalty shot on the 18th green in his opening round 12 months ago for a moving ball violation, Jason Dufner. The reigning PGA champion eventually finished 9th in his first visit to Doha and he can go better again this year. His tee to green is one of the best out there at the moment and if he gets a solid start he'll be motivated to win on European soil, following Phil's near miss last week. I missed the 20/1 available earlier this morning but I'm still happy to take the 18s with Skybet.

My second pick this week is Tommy Fleetwood @ 55/1 with Bet Victor. Yes, I backed Tommy last week, and yes I tweeted my frustration that both he and Joost Luiten were 2 of the 3 players in the TOP 23 on the leaderboard on Saturday that didn't break par, but the young Englishman is really producing consistent results lately and there's no reason why he can't contend again in Doha. His length off the tee will be an asset and he's no stranger to handling the wind should it blow, which it normally does here. I was expecting Tommy to open at around 33/1 this week so I cannot pass up the 55s. I like to stick with players that are in form. I've had my fingers burnt quite a few times by abandoning a player one week only to see him go and win! I'll keep the faith !

I like the chances of Stephen Gallacher here this week also. He finished 8th in Abu Dhabi and will be in confident mood for this and next week in Dubai where he defends. He has form at the Qatar Masters too despite mediocre performances the past 2 years, but has 2 TOP10s and 2 TOP20s to his bow from his previous 10 appearances. He obviously likes the wind and playing in this part of the world, so he has to be included in the staking plan this week @ 55/1 with Betpack.

We had a Spaniard winning the Abu Dhabi Championship last week and I also fancy another one in the shape of Alvaro Quiros @ 40/1 with Skybet this week. Its been awhile since we last saw the big hitting Quiros contend but recent performances suggest that his game is getting back to where it was. He finished T 31st last week, so hopefully the rust has been shaken off and he can look forward to Qatar where he has won and finished runner-up twice before. Horses for Courses is certainly what I'm looking at and if recent form is progressing, he may just be at ease here and give us a shout and get back into the winners circle.


I'm trying hard not to side with Thomas Aiken these days as I've backed him so many times before, but his recent form has been encouraging with TOP 20s in his last 2 starts. He has a TOP10 here (2011) and added a TOP25 last year so he too seems to like this course. Thomas is just one of those players that could rip up a course one week and be embarrassing the next. Mercurial to say the least, but he's worth backing on a course such as Doha, when he's playing well and has previous experience. He cannot be ignored @ 90/1 with Betfair (sportsbook)


Remember I mentioned the rules infringement re: Rory earlier in this post? Well, it was actually pointed out to Rory by his playing partner's caddy, Dave Renwick. He was on the bag of Ricardo Gonzalez, who will this week complete my staking plan. Renwick won't be fazed by all the commotion of that ruling, after all, he has caddied for Majors winners, Vijay Singh, Steve Elkington and Jose Maria Olazabal and is experienced to get on with his job. Hopefully it wont faze the huge hitting Argentine (don't they all hit it huge from Argentina?), who hasn't won on tour since 2009. Perhaps at 44 years of age his winning days are over ? He shot a lovely 66 last Friday in Abu Dhabi before finishing T31st alongside Quiros, and he will be happier here at Doha GC where he has previous form of 7 TOP20s in 10 outings. He has a nice early start playing alongside Matthew Nixon and Jorge Campillo and is worth a small dabble at 125/1 with Boylesports for the each way. I'm also backing him each way for First Round Leader (FRL) @ 80/1 with Boylesports. See the first round tees time here


REMINDER - QATAR MASTERS STARTS WEDNESDAY 06:35 LOCAL TIME (03:35 GMT)


Staking Plan (10 pts)

TIP 1: 3 pts WIN J. Dufner @ 18/1 Skybet.

TIP 2: 0.75 pts e/w T. Fleetwood @ 55/1 Bet Victor

TIP 3: 0.75 pts e/w S. Gallacher @ 55/1 Betpack

TIP 4: 0.75 pts e/w A. Quiros @ 40/1 Skybet

TIP 5:  0.5 pts e/w T.Aiken @ 90/1 Betfair Sportsbook

TIP 6: 0.25 pts e/w R.Gonzalez @ 125/1 Boylesports

 TIP 7: 0.5 pts e/w FRL R.Gonzalez @ 80/1 Boylesports