UG Tips: Dubai Desert Classic
After a long winter the golf season is now up and running. There may have already been a few events, but now that the big boys are into their stride we are ready to get stuck in. The Dubai Desert Classic has a history of producing top class winners, including 7 Masters Champions! Traditionally the course demands some big hitting, and isn’t necessarily too penal toward wayward driving. There are some obvious contenders among the stellar line-up, with in-form Rory McIlroy, Sergio and Tommy Fleetwood all receiving healthy backing.
Although we like Rory’s chances this week after an impressive showing last week, we are holding him back for a double with Jon Rahm (see below). There’s no doubt that he is the man to beat this week. Defending Champion, Sergio, will fancy his chances, but the feeling is that last week will have tired him a little and his history of successful defences …… well, it’s not good. There would be no great surprise to see Fleetwood go well again, but he’s not proven to back up well after a win.
Henrik Stenson 12/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £170
The big Swede loves playing in the desert. Having lived here for a number of years, he is used to the conditions and has a proven record at this venue – 7 top 8’s including a win since 2007. He looked to be coming into some fine form last week, closing with a 65. Perhaps the only concern might be his length off the tee (best ranked 43rd in Driving Distance since last July) but his long irons are beyond a joke so I am happy to back him on that basis.
Matthew Fitzpatrick 18/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £245
Fitzpatrick has sneakily become very comfortable among the game’s elite. He may look like he’s bunking off school, but the lad can seriously play. His length off the tee may concern some, but the quality of his iron play and particularly his wedges will make him a force to be reckoned with. The length of the likes of Rory will enable them to tear up the par 5’s this week, and reassuringly for Fitzpatrick he ranks among the top 5 players in the world at par 5 scoring, proving that there is more than one way to skin a cat. He’s another who played well last week and will need to continue to do so to retain his Ryder Cup spot.
Ross Fisher 28/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £370
It feels like he’s had more top 10’s than Ed Sheeran in the last year. Fisher is well and truly back from his mid-career slump and looks like he is on the verge of another win anytime. This style of course is perfect for his game. He performs well in the desert, with his powerful high ball-flight lending itself to the conditions. With conditions set fair for the week, we can expect a birdie-fest, and there a few players who can go consistently low for 4 rounds – Fisher is one of them. Just in case you weren’t sure of his driving ability, take a look at THIS – he’s long and straight!
Martin Kaymer 50/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £645
The former world number 1, double major winning Ryder Cup legend may be an unfashionable pick these days, but there is something bubbling under. He’s not won for four years, granted, but having gone back to blades he looks happier. He didn’t trouble the leaders last week, but I like what I’m seeing, and he likes the desert. These odds are just too long for a player of his undoubted class.
Dylan Frittelli 50/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £322.50
South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli is playing here for the first time but he’s another big hitter with decent GIR figures and he too caught the eye last week. He drifted away on Sunday to eventually finish 19th but he was in with a squeak with a round to go and he’s rapidly improving. He won twice on the European Tour last year and I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if he won again soon.
Thomas Detry 90/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £572.50
I’ve had half an eye on this young Belgian for a while now. He seems to have settled into life on tour and his results are starting to reflect the talent that he has. It’s event in his stats that he has improved in all areas this season (albeit it still early) – in particular coupling an additional 15 yards off the tee with improved accuracy. Having shaved 1 putt a round off on average, proves that his hard work is bearing fruit. He looked great last week on his way to a top 10 amid star-studded quality. Despite missing the cut here last year, he looks like he has the game to contend and follow in the footsteps of his countryman Thomas Pieters.
Jon Rahm to win Farmers Insurance Open AND Rory McIlroy to win Dubai Desert Classic 45/1