Monday, 1 February 2016

Dubai Desert Classic - 2016

The "Major of the Middle East " will complete the 2016 Desert Swing on the Majlis Course of the Emirates Golf Club this week where Rory McIlroy will return looking to improve on his putting that cost him dearly two weeks in neighbouring Abu Dhabi. The Classic has been staged every year since 1989 and has seen over 21 different champions, with only Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, defending succsessfully in it's history. It's fair to say that The Majlis has been Stephen's most profitable course in his career with those back to back victories, a runner up placing in 2012 and a further TOP10 in 2011, not to mention his third placing twelve months ago. Of course, Gallacher is not the only multiple winner here as defending champion, Rory McIlroy tees it up in search of his third title this week. Ernie Els has three titles and has shown some improved form of late, so who's to say he can't contend again this week? Henrik Stenson took last week off to rest following recent surgery but showed no real side affects from that two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi when finishing third behind Rickie Fowler and Thomas Pieters. The Swede has solid form  here and indeed in Dubai itself in recent years, when winning twice on the Earth Course at the season's finale (2014 & 2013). In all, the Majlis has seen some great winners over the years and let's hope we have another great week in store . 

I'm hoping for a nice winner to celebrate turning 50 years of age on Wednesday but I doubt I'll see Rory getting beat here. (Speaking of significant birthdays, thanks to Ian from Sports Betting Index who tweeted on Monday that this week Bob Estes will also turn 50 as well as Jose Maria Olazabal. I also share the same birthday as Retief Goosen). I'll have a sore head on Sunday after a party on Saturday night but should Rory not have this by the scruff of the neck by then I might just enjoy the couch whilst I recover!

So, from the pack can we find a player that could surprise and contend ? Last week's selection, Nicolas Colsaerts was on the original shortlist for this but he showed on Friday in Qatar how he can struggle in both the wind and scrambling departments. Reluctantly I've decided to leave him out but wouldn't be a bit surprised to see him bounce back this week. 

My selection in the outright market this week goes to Tommy Fleetwood @ 70/1. I mentioned Tommy in a recent post( Abu Dhabi preview), but was delighted to see his game was in good nick as he threatened to challenge in Qatar. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see his chipping has improved and he made some nice putts over the week from the bit of coverage I did see. Tommy plays here for the fifth time this week and has a TOP10 in his locker already from 3 years ago. Seventh last week in Qatar following a missed cut in Abu Dhabi should ensure he is ready to settle into his season and kick on and win a second title on the tour.  He appeared to be comfortable with his new swing last week and on a course where driving and scoring on par 5s will be vital, I'm keen to have the Southport player on the team this week.

My old favourite Ross Fisher can't be left out either this week. Ross is 7/8 from his visits to the Majlis and he's acquired six TOP20s from those visits which have included a TOP5 and two TOP10s. Recent form is also encouraging having finished T35th in Abu Dhabi and 15th in Sun City at the Nedbank. He also played quite nicely at the EurAsia Cup. The 35 year old should be looking for a good season ahead, and having had last week to refresh for this one, I'm confident of a bold showing on a course he is well used to, and make him a solid TOP20 bet this week @ 4.20 with William Hill (3.75 general)

Finally, as the Desert Swing comes to a close, it might be worth chancing the enigma that is Bryson Dechambeau here. He opened quite well in Abu Dhabi before fading down the leaderboard and he never really got going last week in Qatar. He may find conditions more to his liking this week in Dubai and indeed he showed no signs of effect from those two events, when winning the AD Invitational last Sunday at the Yas Links with a fine round of 65. With wind only forecasted for Thursday afternoon, it might be a week for low scoring again and the American is quite capable of putting four of those together. He's a player to watch for the future as we all know, and most certainly once he turns professional after The Masters. We may not get such nice odds on him in a European Tour event like this again. The "Scientist" is taken here to grab a TOP10 @ 13.00


0.50 pts WIN T.Fleetwood @ 70/1
1.50 pts TOP10 T.Fleetwood @ 8.00

1.0 pts TOP10 B.Dechambeau @ 13.00 

3.0 pts TOP20 R.Fisher @ 4.30

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