Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2021 European Tour: Saudi International

2021 European Tour: Saudi International

Damian Kayat previews the Saudi Open taking place at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, King Abdhullah Economic City, Saudia Arabia.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

The European Tour 2021 | Saudi International
Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia 
February 4th -7th

There’s no denying the brilliance of Paul Casey last week in Dubai.  Let me say that from the outset.  All I’m hoping for is a slightly more invigorating finale to this week’s event.  Tyrell Hatton and Paul Casey have bossed the first two desert events in imperious fashion.  It did make for some fairly benign final rounds.  Here’s hoping that the 3rd stop in the desert swing can alleviate that.  Established in 2019, this event became the first European Tour event to take place in Saudi Arabia.  Despite the country’s well documented issues regarding human rights and political assassinations, money always wins out.  There are no doubt exorbitant appearance fees involved as some of the world’s best golfers tee up this week.  They include 2019 champ (as well as reigning Masters champ and current World Number One) Dustin Johnson.  Can anyone stop the languid Floridian from decimating the field?

This is a short and strategic coastal track that will favour the precise bombers (Dustin Johnson anyone?).  Many of the par 4’s can be reduced to just a drive and a wedge- or a drive and a putt.  This was clearly evident in the first renewal of this event.  Dustin Johnson beat Hao-Tong Li and Tom Lewis is a veritable drive off.  The fairways are also extremely forgiving.  But last year saw a slight rejig, with thicker rough and a breeze allowing the surgical Graeme McDowell to slip through the cracks.  Should we consider this the norm?  I wouldn’t think so.  There will be some wind this week but nothing to concern the players.  Some dogleg holes and numerous lakes will require the players to use their noggins from time to time.

This week sees a stellar field line-up of bang in-form players.  Dustin Johnson is clearly the big dog and he relishes this course.  Bryson DeChambeau is still looking to recapture that Winged Foot magic.  Paul Casey won in inspired fashion last week and had become a perennial figure on leader-boards.  Also, a winner last week- though far ore controversially- Patrick Reed remains the most divisive figure in world golf (and that includes Thorbjorn Olesen).  Regardless of what you feel about the embedded lie malarkey, Reed is one of the pinnacle players in game at this moment.  And then you have Tyrell Hatton, perhaps the man closest to Dustin Johnson in terms of pure form.  This promises to be a fantastic week of golfing action.

Past Winners
2020: Graeme McDowell (-12)
2019: Dustin Johnson (-19)

Outright Betting (To Win)
Dustin Johnson (11/2)
Bryson DeChambeau (10/1)
Tyrell Hatton (12/1)
Patrick Reed (14/1)
Viktor Hovland (18/1)

Value Bets

Sergio Garcia- To Win (25/1), To Place (11/2)
The Spaniard is a past master at windy, desert tracks (too many examples to catalogue here).  Garcia was 6th last week in Dubai, continuing his fine desert form.  He also finished 6th in this very event last year.  Garcia was simply flawless from the tee last week, ranking 2nd in SG: Off-the-tee.  Scrambling is also a stat that is critical around here.  This makes Garcia very appealing, as he currently sits 5th amongst his peers in shots gained around the green.  Garcia is a fierce competitor who has tasted victory on either the European Tour or PGA tour every year dating back to 2016.

Lucas Herbert- To Win (60/1), To Place (13/1)
Lucas Herbert looks like terrific value at 60/1.  Lest we forget, this is the man who won last year’s Dubai Desert Classic.  Herbert crucially has the power to dominate Royal Greens.  12 months ago, he finished 27th here on debut.  He teed up straight after the Dubai triumph (perhaps underwhelming was to be expected).  Herbert had a full three months off leading to Dubai.  He then finished 25th in Abu Dhabi.  He fared ever so slightly better in Dubai, finishing in 22nd place.  He should officially have the rust out of his system.

The Man to Beat

Bryson DeChambeau- To Win (10/1), To Place (22/10)
I hate going for the out and out favourite, but this week I feel compelled. Pieters- like Gavin Green- is coming off a wonderful tie for third at the Saudi International. He has since taken a couple of weeks off and should feel well refreshed entering this week. Pieters is a class act who should have really won more than four European Tour titles. Furthermore, Pieters finished sixth in last year’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. The 28-year-old could be ready to finally become the success story that his talents have always warranted.   

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