Wednesday, 16 November 2016

DP World Tour Championship 2016 - Earth Course, Dubai

The curtain comes down on the European Tour season in Dubai this week, where the TOP60 players will contest for the DP World Tour Championship at the Greg Norman designed, Earth Course. Its a tournament where Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson have each won twice in the past four years and they both understandably head the betting again this week. Rory arrives here with only a small chance of winning the Race to Dubai having given up his chance by withdrawing from the Turkish Airlines Open two weeks ago. His focus is primarily on winning this tournament this week, and then negotiating best price for equipment endorsements going forward next month before tying the knot at Ashford Castle on New Year's Eve. His main rivals however, Stenson & Willett will be planning on capturing the R2D title here. Should Alex Noren win yet again this week then Stenson needs to finish second so there is plenty of incentive for the market leaders to finish the season strongly.

The Course


The Earth Course was designed by Greg Norman and has hosted this event since 2009. Lee Westwood prevailed then and apart from Alavro Quiros winning in 2011, the winners were all well established in the Order of Merit/Race to Dubai for that season. A long course where accuracy and driving distance don't seem to be the key attributes for a great week, should see the scoring go low. Course form though is probably a requirement, Rory seems to love it here ; 2 wins in 2015 & 2012 with a 2nd & 5th in between were proceeded by figures of 11-5-3 from 2011 - 2009. He'll be up there again this week! Stenson has the two wins but other results are less encouraging and Alex Noren has shown no form here whatsoever although arrives this year in much better shape than he has in recent years.

Shortlist & Selections

I dropped Louis Oosthuizen from my final shortlist despite solid previous form here - his putting was awful last week on home soil and I'm banking on that not improving in time for this. His compatriot though, Branden Grace didn't play that well last week but still climbed the leaderboard to finish 3rd. He'll take great confidence from that and can improve on his Earth Course results of 3-9-52-6 the past four years. If he gets the flatstick hot this week he could prevail come Sunday. I had priced Grace @ 18/1 for this as a conservative quote so the 22/1 - 24/1 available has to be taken.

Jeunghun Wang almost ended the blog's draught in the winner's department last week, but despite holding a 5 shot lead during the final round he was overtaken in scintillating fashion by Noren's 63 to finish a distant second. He was 13th in Turkey the week before and although he's been on the move for a number of weeks now, he can continue good form by putting in one final effort here and make hay with a red hot putter he has of late. 7.50 for TOP10 is the bet for me with small stakes on the exchange for outright. He makes his debut though on the course this year but his compatriot An did likewise last year and finished 4th! Tyrell Hatton finished 6th on debut 2 years ago and backed that up with a T15 last year. Wang is two time winner on tour and has the credentials to kick on from last week's disappointment.

Finally, I have to stick with Tommy Fleetwood for the last event of the year. He's been knocking on the door of late and despite mediocre form here it should be a course to his liking. Six TOP15 finishes in his last eight tournaments shows the form he is in and he will tee it up with Nacho Elvira on Thursday. He had a poor start last year with a 77, and actually started poorly last week too with a 75, so he may be conscious of getting off to a better start this week.Tommy can capitalize on the Par-5s here and make a run for the title, and make the 7.50 for TOP10 also seem generous.


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Selections:
2.0 pts B. Grace @ 24.00
0.25 pts J. Wang @ 110.00
0.50 pts T. Fleetwood @ 140.00

2.50 pts TOP10 J.Wang @ 7.50
2.75 pts TOP10 T. Fleetwood @ 7.50