European Tour: Dubai Desert Classic Preview

Golfer admires shot

Damien Kayat takes a look at the second leg of the Desert Swing: the Dubai Desert Classic.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic | 24 - 27 January | Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, UAE

The second leg of the desert swing on the European Tour has actually attracted a fairly prestigious line-up, especially when you consider the concurrent Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour. First staged way back in 1989, this was the first event to ever be staged on the Arabian Peninsula. It’s amazing to see just how much that landscape has transfigured since '89, with a kaleidoscope of skyscrapers replacing the arid desert surroundings, a perfect symbol of the European Tour’s evolution over time. There was no event in 1991, making this the 30th edition of the Dubai Desert Classic.

The Majlis Course, designed by Karl Litten and opened in 1998, will once again play host to the event. This has been the venue of this event every year with the exception of 1998 and 2000. The European Tour website seems to suggest that the rough will be more penal this year, with the fairways deliberately unseeded to encourage harder, faster runoff. This should theoretically be tougher on the guys with accuracy issues. The Bermuda greens are usually quite fast by European standards. This is an exposed desert track that really requires some wind to make it threatening. Early weather forecasts seem to suggest quite benign conditions this week, which should promote some seriously good scoring.

Bryson DeChambeau is rightfully the market leader as he sets out to augment a burgeoning reputation as one of the most consistent players on the world stage. Tommy Fleetwood’s attempts to claim his third consecutive Abu Dhabi title fell a little flat last week. Major Champions abound, with Oosthuizen, Kaymer, Stenson and Sergio Garcia to pick up some momentum in the early stages of the season. Elsewhere, Ryder Cup heroes such as Tyrell Hatton and Thorbjorn Olesen add some more gloss to what has developed into quite a star-studded field so early in the season.

Past Winners
2018: Li Haotong (-23)
2017: Sergio Garcia (-19)
2016: Danny Willett (-19)
2015: Rory McIlroy (-22)
2014: Stephen Gallagher (-16)

To Win Outright:
Bryson DeChambeau10/1 | Tommy Fleetwood 14/1 | Louis Oosthuizen 14/1 | Sergio Garcia 14/1 | Henrik Stenson 16/1

Value Bets

Alexander Bjork- To Win 70/1, To Place 15/1
Bjork got off to a blistering start in Abu Dhabi before fading quite badly towards the end. But there were plenty of encouraging signs as he returns to a course that he clearly loves: he finished sixth here last year. He also has really impressive broader form in the UAE, with form figures that read 32-12-6-mc-17-13-32. He started with a 66 last week, while he opened with a 65 in Dubai last year. So he certainly has the capacity to start well on these desert courses. Perhaps he may be worth a gander in the first round leader market at 60/1.

Dean Burmester- To Win 90/1, To Place 19/1
The talented South African had a slightly underwhelming conclusion to his 2018 campaign, though he should thrive in conditions here. His length off the tee should allow him to exploit the attractive Par 5 scoring options out there. He had a solid debut here last season, breaking 70 in every round en route to a T22nd. It just added to an exceptional run of form in the UAE: he as seventh in Abu Dhabi two years back while he has twice finished fourth in the DP World Tour Championship. A desert specialist at 19/1 in the place market looks rather appealing.

The Man to Beat- Thorbjorn Olesen- To Win 35/1, To Place 15/2
The Ryder Cup hero missed the cut last week in Abu Dhabi, which only makes him more appealing in the odds department. I am willing to overlook that when you consider his prior form and previous form in this event. At the end of last year he had two excellent seventh place finishes- at the Turkish Airlines Open and the HSBC Tournament of Champions. He also picked up a fourth place when defending his World Cup of Golf title with Soren Kjeldsen. This event should trigger positive muscle memories for the ‘Great Dane’: he has finishes of third, fifth and eighth in three of his last five starts at Emirates Golf Club.

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets.

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