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Omega Dubai Desert Classic Preview 2017 Preview
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic gets underway at the Emirates Golf Club this Thursday.
Tiger Woods makes his way back to the European Tour following a disappointing comeback performance last weekend. The iconic American is a former champion here - winning in 2006 and 2008 - and perhaps he may fair slightly better in a tournament that is expected to be afflicted by quite serious wind this week.
Six of the past ten champions here have also won an Open Championship, indicating that the Emirates Golf Club plays fairly similarly to your typical links course in windy conditions.
Rory McIlroy misses out due to injury, with defending champion Danny Willett will be hoping to recapture the type of form that saw him explode in the broader golfing consciousness early last season.
The Karl Litten designed course should present plenty of scoring opportunities for the premier golfers. Driving accuracy looks an almost irrelevant stat this week, highlighting the forgiving nature of the rough. No winner here has ever ranked inside the top 15 for DA. Since Mark O’Meara’s victory in 2004, every winner outside of two has ranked within the top five for driving distance. So look for the prodigious hitters to nullify the windier conditions.
Being the final part of the Desert Swing, this tournament often serves as a springboard for success for the rest of the season. One need not look any further than the feats of a certain Englishman last season. Willet’s solid Desert appearances laid the groundwork for that monumental breakthrough at Augusta. But all eyes will be on Tiger to see if he can draw inspiration from the exploits of Roger Federer and turn back the hands of time this week.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic | Thursday 2 February - Sunday 5 February 2017 | Emirates Golf Club, Dubai
2016: Danny Willett (-19) | 2015: Rory McIllroy (-22) | 2014: Stephen Gallagher (-16) | 2013: Stephen Gallagher (-22) | 2012: Rafa Cabrera Bello (-18)
To Win Outright
Henrik Stenson 13/2 | Sergio Garcia 20/1 | Rafa Cabrera-Bello 20/1 | Tyrell Hatton 25/1 | Bernd Wiesberger 25/1
Jeunghun Wang – To Win 33/1 & To Place 7/1
This is a fairly big price considering the nature of Wang’s victory in Doha last weekend. We all know that it is notoriously difficult to win back to back tournaments on the European Tour, but that’s exactly what Wang did last season. He followed up from his maiden win in Morocco with a victory in a similarly windswept Mauritius. You also shouldn’t be too put off by the fact that this is his first appearance at the Emirates Golf Course, having won in Qatar in his first appearance there.
Chris Wood- To Win 40/1 & To Place 17/2
Wood’s long driving should prove a factor at the Majilas this week, with a return to form in Qatar last week also an encouraging sign for Wood. His game is also less likely to be affected by wind. He also has a strong record here, with six consecutive top 30 finishes following a missed cut in 2009. The former Qatar Masters champion clearly shows a propensity for performing in this part of the world. Last year’s BMW PGA Champion disappointed slightly at the Ryder Cup, although he did more than hold his own against Texan Dustin Johnson in the Sunday singles. He said that Willet’s victory in last year’s Masters was a huge inspiration in his BMW triumph, and I expect that he has a good chance to replicate his fellow countryman’s success here.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat – To Win 50/1 & To Place 11/1
Curiously once dubbed the ‘Asian John Daly’, Aphibarnrat recently stated that the reason for his hectic playing schedule is simple: so he can spend lots of money on watches and white Ferraris. There’s always something refreshing about some honest candour, especially in the occasionally sedate world of golf. He’s clearly embracing the 'Desert Swing' thus far, with finishes of T4 in Abu Dhabi and T9 in Qatar. He’s got the type of big driving game that could render this course helpless.
The Man to Beat
Henrik Stenson - To Win 13/2 & To Place 14/10
I know there is almost no value in Stenson at this price. But it’s impossible to ignore the current Open Champion. His last two PGA Tour starts have yielded a 2nd placed finish as well as a tie for 2nd. He disappointed slightly in Abu Dhabi, especially after opening with an incandescent 64. He is a master of Desert Golf, with four of his eleven European Tour wins coming in this Desert Swing, including a win here in 2007.