European Tour: DP World Championship Preview

Golfer admires shot with wood in hand

Can Branden Grace go two from two on the European Tour with success at the DP World Championship after winning last week's Nedbank Golf Challenge?

The inaugural DP World Tour Championship was staged in 2009- the first year that the European Tour decided to adopt the extremely successful formula that characterizes the FedEx Cup. I still think they have work to do on elevating the year-end events.

Far too many of the top candidates decided to skip the trip to South Africa, undercutting the entire pressure-cooker atmosphere that they are attempting to generate. The top 60 players return to the Earth Course in Dubai for what promises- thanks to the efforts of one Justin Rose- to be a pulsating end to the European season.

DP World Championship | 16 November - 19 November | Jumeirah Golf Estate, Dubai

The Greg Norman designed Earth Course is a veritable monster, measuring a whopping 7, 831 yards over the par 72 course. The brilliant white bunkers and fast run-off areas are strangely evocative of Augusta- but don’t let the length and apparent similarity fool you: this is a far less penal experience. Generous fairways and large undulating greens make for a fairly benign course that suits the guys with greater length off the tee- clearly. Of all the winners, only last year’s champion Matthew Fitzpatrick was outside the top eight in driving distance throughout the week.

Justin Rose’s recent back-to-back victories have added much needed intrigue to what could have been little more than a procession for current Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood. Rose’s decision not to tee it up in Sun City wasn’t fully exploited by the effervescent Englishman: Rose would win the Race to Dubai prize if he secured sixth place and finished above Fleetwood. Spanish duo Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm share a mathematical chance alongside Englishmen Ross Fisher and Tyrell Hatton of claiming the prize, but that would require a fairly labyrinthine sequence of events that belongs more squarely in the realms of fiction.

Past Winners
2016: Matthew Fitzpatrick (-17)
2015: Rory McIlroy (-21)
2014: Henrik Stenson (-16)
2013: Henrik Stenson (-25)
2012: Rory McIlroy 

To Win Outright
Justin Rose 6/1 | Sergio Garcia 12/1 | Jon Rahm | 12/1 Branden Grace | 14/1 | Tyrell Hatton 16/1

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Value Bets

Victor Dubuisson- To Win 20/1, To Place 44/10
I know he was one of my picks last week- which he duly rewarded- but I can’t help but think that this could be yet another opportunity for the mercurial French talent. Clearly his length off the tee is a huge plus while he is coming off a brilliant tie for third in Sun City. He is clearly hot at this time of the year- winning the Turkish Airlines Open last season. He also has impressive course form that reads 36-3-2-13, which is particularly impressive considering the strong fields generally present here.

Thomas Pieters- To Win 55/1, To Place 12/1
Pieters is certainly the type of big hitting modern professional with the tools to decimate this course. He has had some near misses this year: he finished fourth at the Masters, second at the Genesis Open, fourth at Bridgestone and fifth at the WGC Mexico. He also has great desert form, finishing runner-up to Ricky Fowler in Abu-Dhabi last year after finishing 4th the season before. He may have had some poor recent form- although an 11th place finish in Turkey hinted at a turnaround- but he has the quality to dominate a course that suits his massive driving game. Few would have believed a year ago that you would see this price for Pieters in the near future, and I think that it represents great value.

Paul Dunne- To Win 70/1, To Place 15/1
Paul Dunne represents my choice for the lower echelons of the betting markets. He burst onto the scene with that wonderful win at the British Masters, managing to hold off Rory in a thrilling climax to the event. Since then he has been the model of consistency, making five consecutive cuts and not finishing outside the top 40 once. He had a T7 appearance at the Alfred Dunhill Links and finished inside the top 30 in Sun City last week. He may prove a valuable sleeper bet in the place markets.

The Man to Beat- Branden Grace- To Win 14/1, To Place 3/1
Branden Grace came from the golfing doldrums last week to capture an astonishing victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Grace has been a perennial contender in the major championships over the last few seasons and boasts terrific desert form. He is a two-time winner of the Qatar Masters and also boasts a credible record here. He finished sixth on debut here in 2012 and managed to finish third two years ago. With the likes of Hatton and Rose likely to feel the added pressure of the Race to Dubai calculations, the in-form Grace could ride a positive wave of energy and match Hatton and Rose in winning back-to-back titles this year.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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