Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Dubai Desert Classic 2020

The Dubai Desert Classic is hosted yet again at The Emirates GC. I was lucky enough to walk the course this time twelve months ago and follow Matty Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters and Lucas Bjerrgaard in one group whilst also keeping an eye on Martin Kaymer and Rafael Cabrera Bello on the Friday morning before catching a flight home. The course was immaculate but the one thing that I was surprised at was how much it has changed since `Mark James won the inaugural event in 1989. The Emirates course is a fully established parkland course these days with the sand surrounding the fairways of little impact to these players. Its most definitely a ball strikers course and the roll of honour down the years shows a pretty impressive list of who's who of World golf!There has been 8 different Masters winner here as well as Open & US Open Champions seeing victory also down the years. Being "desert golf" its easy to speculate that this would be a links-type golf course but the maturity of the course of the years leads me to believe this is no longer the case. Strong tee to green game is required here and those players that played and excelled in that department down the road in Abu Dhabi are likely to be in the mix here come Sunday.

Tommy Fleetwood left it all too late in Abu Dhabi as he clicked into gear over the weekend. He said though afterwards he was delighted to start the year so strongly and he'll take that positivity into this week where he can boast a pair of TOP10s in his 10 starts to date. It's not great form considering 2 missed cuts to boot and some lowly finishing positions but this is a much established Tommy Fleetwood these days.He finished runner-up last week to back up his runner-up finish in Dubai last November at the World Tour Championship finale a couple of blocks away. Prior to these last two starts, Tommy took out the Nedbank Challenge. Needless to say hes been in cracking form since the Autumn and last week's 2020 debut will do him no harm here this week.

Matty Fitzpatrick perhaps should have finished higher than his 16th placing 12 months ago when he tied alongside Fleetwood having started so well, but I was very impressed with his course management on that Friday morning and the way he was building his new relationship with Billy Foster on the bag. Perhaps this was highlighted more so by Thomas Pieters woeful course management that day but the Sheffield youngster was deadly with his approach play and there was a lot to like last week in Abu Dhabi too.

Last week I briefly mentioned those on my shortlist that were considered before finalizing my staking plan and this list included Fitzy, Wiesberger and Cabrera Bello, all three who have to be seriously considered here! Pieters,who was initially on my staking plan last week but dropped at the last minute once I had missed the price, is not considered this week having witnessed his game-plan during Round-2 at The Majlis last year. So as for Fitzpatrick, I expect a bold showing this week considering he was 4th in Abu Dhabi in the SG:ATG with +1.65 strokes.

Matt was very unlucky not to win on tour last year but I don't expect him to be waiting for the W for much longer. This is a big year and I feel we will see a lot of the Englishman over the next 9-10 months. He's not a bet though @ 12/1 with the bookies, but I'l back him on the exchange at 20.00 instead.

I wanted to see how Martin Kaymer played last week and I was impressed. He has opened at 40/1(now into 33s) for the Dubai Desert Classic and thats much better then my 28/1 tissue. Kaymer has decent form here, has reunited with his long term caddy, Craig Connolly, and looks to make a charge for the Ryder Cup team. 4 TOP-4s in his last 9 starts augurs well and indeed during the lean times he still managed a yield of 24-19-23 the past 3 years at The Dubai Desert Classic.

Renato Paratore bucks the trend in comparison to the two players above but he's a player I think can improve greatly this year too. No real form here at The Emirates GC to write about (mc-mc-42-26-13) but his recent form suggests he could improve on that here this week. A TOP-20 at the Dunhill was followed up by a runners-up placing in Mauritius, indeed it was a 3-man playoff where he lost out to Rasmus Hojgaard. He opened his 2020 campaign with a nice 21st placing last week. The price attracts me in here as the Italian could out perform the implied chances and he's included in the TOP-20 market @ 5.00

I will chance a bet on Romain Wattel putting in a decent effort this week. Having lost his card, the Frenchman will be keen to return to tour ASAP and this week gives him a chance to go about climbing the points ladder. He played on the Mena Tour last week in a Dubai Desert qualifying tournament, The Area Shootout at the Ras Al Kaimah and duly won the 36 hole event by 6.Much lower grade of course but the result and performance will do his confidence a load of good. He has shown form here before too, finishing 16th twelve months ago, 3rd in 2014 and a 12th in 2012. He's not without a chance of making the cut and producing another one of these finishes again and so he's chanced in the TOP-20/40 markets @ 12.00 & 4.50


1.50 pts M. Fitzpatrick to win @ 20.00
1.00 pts e/w M.Kaymer @ 34.00 (1/5 - 7 places)
2.00 pts R. Paratore TOP-20 @ 5.00
1.50 pts R. Wattel TOP-20 @ 12.00
3.00 pts R. Wattel TOP-40 @ 4.50

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Abu Dhabi Championship 2020

They used to use the tagline "Expect the Unexpected" for this Tournament, but I'd wager no-one expected the downfall of Martin Kaymer here in 2015 when infamously, he let a 10-shot lead in the final round slip to lose out to Gary Stal. The German hasn't won anywhere since. The former World Number One and two time Major Champion tees it up this week once again looking to find a result on a course that he has won three times on, as well as a further 4 TOP-6s. At 50/1 he'll have his backers,;he was tempting for me also but I've decided to not chase Martin Kaymer returns just yet, he does owe me nothing over the years, so whilst I do expect a big year from Kaymer, it's a watching brief for me here this week.....I will expect the expected!

This Championship is now part of The Rolex Series and that means that we should  start looking at the cream of the entries. Open Champion, Shane Lowry defends this week and he warmed up nicely last week by finishing runner-up to Wade Ormsby in Hong Kong. The Irishman has a Major, a WGC and a Rolex Series win under his belt and his goal this year is obvious....make the Ryder Cup European Team. He won't be the only player motivated to get a good result here and grab as many points as possible and they'll have to compete for those points against some high competition, including an American invasion in the Middle East in the shape of Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka, Bryson de Chambeau towards the head of the betting market. Of these three, it's Cantlay I'd prefer, but @ 10/1 I'd rather look for a bit of value down further. I'll do so,well aware that these Rolex Series events are being taken out by the leading golfers about, with just a couple of exceptions to date.

Thomas Pieters is (was) on my staking plan here despite trying to talk myself out of it. You take a chance on the Belgian Bomber each week and I've pondered whether I should take the 30/1 here or leave for another day, but his course form can't be ignored. This is a ball strikers course and Pieters has been fairly consistent since he took out the Czech Masters last August, finishing TOP-10 in 6 out of the next 10 tournaments. (as I review this post before publishing, Pieters' odds have dropped significantly enough for me to discard from the staking plan this week and be talked out of it!)

From my shortlist, I looked long and hard at Matty Fitzpatrick,Bernd Wiesberger,Danny Willett, George Coetzee,Ryan Fox, Rafael Cabrera Bello and Pablo Larrzabal. Of these, the price that stood out most for me was that of 75/1 - 80/1 about George Coetzee. Bernd Wiesberger's price is slightly better then expected, only just whilst the kiwi, Fox's @ 110/1 - 7 places was better than my 100s. Coetzee is my selection in the each way market here @ 75/1 - 8 places. Coetzee showed a gradual return to form towards the end of 2019 following time off through injury and he played nicely last week in Johannesburg to finish 6th. He recorded two TOP-25s in Mauritius & the Alfred Dunhill previous to that. I actually had him @ 55/1 for this week. He did miss the cut here the last two years and whilst there have been course changes over the recent years, he does hold Middle East Form and indeed posted 3 TOP-10s between 2012 -2014 here.Well capable in the wind, big George is a play at the price.

The aforementioned Ryan Fox arrives fresh for the new season, so it remains to be seen if he can hit the ground running. His last three visits yielded 27-39-19. A brace of TOP-30s in December though at the Australian Open & PGA championships suggest that his form is decent enough and he won't arrive totally cold, and hes taken in the TOP-20 market @ 5.50 to maintain that sort of form for a return.


1 pt e/w George Coetzee @ 76.00 - 8 places
3 pts TOP-20 Ryan Fox @ 5.50

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Sony Open 2020

Waialae GC hosts the Sony Open once again in Hawaii this week where the first full field of 2020 assembles. Justin Thomas heads the market having won last week at Kapalua GC in a winners only field from the 2019 season. JT looks to do the double-double having won both the TOC & Sony Open in 2017. Winners of the past 6 Sony Opens all played at the Tournament of Champions the week previous, suggesting that they have an edge on their competitors in terms of having "warmed up". I'm leaning the same way with my picks for the week in that Kevin Kisner teed it up last week, played well before just missing out on a TOP-10. With the run out under his belt, hes taken to follow up with a solid performance again this week. I had made him a 30/1 - 33/1 chance this week so was pleasantly surprised to see 50/1 available. He has course form and the signs were there last week that his game is in good nick.

Ryan Palmer is not a player I'd consider too often, mostly because of his lack on wins on tour over the years. However, I can't ignore his level of consistency over the past few months with 6 TOP-20s in his last 11 starts since he missed the cut at The PGA Championship at Bethpage . Of his 4 PGA Tour titles, one came here at The Sony Open 10 years ago! He likes the wind and he too warmed up nicely last week finishing 17th. 80/1 with 8 places has plenty of value

So, 4 golfers between South Africa and Hawaii and I've opted for 3 mid-30 year olds ! They're a lot younger than I, but we'll get plenty of chances to back the kids down the line soon!

1 pt e/w K. Kisner @ 50/1 - 7 places
1 pt e/w R.Palmer @ 80/1 - 8 places

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

South African Open 2020

Welcome back to the's been quite awhile since I last wrote a proper preview, despite putting up selections throughout 2019. Having missed the weekly challenge of doing the research,pricing the field, looking for some value and then writing the preview, I feel compelled to tackle it again this year in earnest as the year ahead on both the Europeantour & PGA Tour look to be exciting prospects from both spectator & betting point of views.

It hasn't been easy the past 2-3 seasons,and the P&L certainly reflects that, but I note other reputable golf tipsters have found it tough going of late also. Others though are doing well which is heartening and it motivates me to turn it around this year. It's evident that the quality of the competition is much higher than it was 5 to 7 years ago, the elite normally get the job done most weeks these days. Its getting harder to identify where the golfer will outplay his odds nevermind when he will! Something has to change if we are to re turn to profitable ways, so, as I tried to over the past 3 years, before returning to each way betting last year, I believe by concentrating on the TOP10/20 and other side markets may be the better option for some tournaments over others.The young guns are also taken to deliver more often than the "35yr old plus veterans". He say this as the South African Open looks likely to be contended by the experienced players like Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Schwartzel and perhaps Richard Sterne and George Coetzee, all in their 30s! With a field of 240 in Johannesburg this week, we should expect to find some value. However, I do think Oosty will be hard to beat here...there's no doubting how much this National Title means to him and his fellow compatriots. He will be up for this!

Min Woo Lee @ 50/1 is very tempting for me with 7 places or  45/1 with 8 places on offer. The Hojgaard twins, Rasmus & Nicolai @ 60/1 & 250/1 respectively are also appealing this week with the former having won in Mauritius.

Its the opening event of the year, there is a bit of rust about, a 240 man field with tournament host, Louis Oosthuizen in fine form of late.He had a decent performance at The Presidents Cup too. Its small stakes to start this week with a couple of better chances to punt in Hawaii.
Min Woo Lee is taken @50/1 e/w. The Aussie is in great form. TOP-3 at The Australian PGA Championship followed up TOP-3 at the NSW Open. two weeks prior. He's not as rusty as others here following competitive golf right up to Christmas Week.

Former readers of the blog will be aware of my respect for Irishman, Gavin Moynihan. The Dubliner lost his card and missed out at Q-School in November but will have limited starts available on the Europeantour along with the Challenge Tour. He will be confident following a good end of last season despite the disappointment, the highlight of his season having finished T5 at Le Golf National at the end of October. Gavin was 9/16 events on tour last year with the solo T5 in Paris and a further 3 TOP-20s to boot. He's seen his good mate, Paul Dunne start his professional career in flying fashion whilst he struggled to settle. Now the Greystones man is in the same boat, looking to kick start his career once more and we can be assured that both of them will work hard in 2020 to fulfil their dreams. For me, the Portrane double Irish Amateur Champion is the better golfer of the two,and this could be his breakthrough year. With a superb short game, a tight short track as presented over both Firethorn & Bushwillow GCs may give him the opportunity to kick start his season very quickly. I'm backing him to put in a solid effort here and grab at least a TOP-30 @ 5/1.


1 pt e/w Min Woo Lee @ 50/1 (7 places)
4 pts TOP-30 Gavin Moynihan @ 5/1