Race to Dubai: Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Race to Dubai:   Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Assalamu alikum! Here we are back in the UAE for The Omega Dubai Desert Classic. This tournament was born in 1989 when the European Tour visited Asia for the first time. Look at it now – we can’t actually get away from the place and it’s not even in Europe!

Date:                     9th – 12th February 2012

Venue:                 Emirates GC, Dubai, UAE

The flagship course at Emirates Golf Club, The Majilis is a challenging championship par 72, 7,301-yard layout designed by architect Karl Litten, the original 18 holes were built in and around the dunes of a beautiful site on the edge of the city of Dubai – it was the first all grass championship golf course in the Middle East when it opened in 88!

Yards:                   7,301 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

This week there’s a welcome return to some of the games’ best players who have been using the perfect UAE weather to perfect their game in time for this tournament. It also includes some significant experience from stateside including Fred Couples (94/1), Mark O’Meara (189/1) and US Walker Cup star in the making – Peter Uihlein (189/1 – all BetFair).

However, no one is currently on form like perma-odd shortening Paul Lawrie (28/1 with BetFair) – he has amassed 1 Million Euros since mid December in winnings and currently lies third in the Race to Dubai after a sensational 1st place in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters – a tournament he won 13 years ago in the same year he triumphed in the little known Open Championship!

Consider…:

Unlike in Qatar – the weather will be on the side of all of the players and the locals will be keen to see an exciting finish similar to Middle Eastern delights the Majilis course has delivered on many occasions previously. However, here’s hoping the interested locals will bring more billionaires and belly dancers than bombers and leave explosions of any sort strictly to the professionals coming from the sand traps!

Ones to watch:

Alvaro Quiros (19/1 with BetFair) again! In 2011, Spain’s Quiros was tied 65th after an opening round of 73, staged one of the biggest comebacks in the history of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, to win the tournament at 11 under. He was eight shots behind the leader after 36 holes. He’s getting back into the swing of things now and his enormous length will prove of some sizeable advantage this time around as his average drive is blowing in a desert storm at 324 yards!

World number 75, George Coetzee (31/1 with BetFair), is enjoying a hectic but satisfying schedule across both African and Middle Eastern regions since an off season focus on specific practice has delivered rewards meaning a career high 17th position in the R2D. In particular, an improvement in driving accuracy and putting have been the key factors to his ever developing game that he hopes will blow sand in the faces of his golfing colleagues giving them all the hump.

Ones to win:

Hoping to win the coveted decorated but grotesquely smelly camel ride is Peter Hanson (21/1 with BetFair) of Sweden who with three top fives in his last four outings is playing some fantastic competitive golf. Benefitting in 2012 from a little more length from the tee and a white hot putter – providing both of these key elements are on fire, he will surely be leaving the Desert Classic Competitors eating dust.

World Number three Rory McIlroy (24/5 with BetFair) looks tasty yet again as each of the last six outings on the European Tour have netted him six figure winnings and include – at their very worst, an 11th place. On a course he loves, Rors will be looking to retake the 2nd world ranking spot, enjoying further success in the desert after a recent second place in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully the return to the scene of one of his three victories will motivate the youngster as all eyes look to him to fulfill his Middle Eastern promise.

Trick shot:

A winning margin of 4 strokes here at the Emirates will return 34/5 with BetFair.

Jenks out!

(In case it wasn’t hugely obvious, all odds this week have been brought to you by our friends at BetFair)

Race to Dubai: Commercialbank Qatar Masters

Race to Dubai:   Commercialbank Qatar Master presented by Dolphin Energy

Off we trot around the globe, only this week slightly further up the Arabian gulf for the second of the three event swing in the desert at yet another predictably lush oasis with artificial lakes and an over opulent clubhouse. So, let’s start with slating the title; it’s the European Tours longest titled event – bigger that the Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize Odier Bungener Courvoisier (shortened to OBC); it then has one of the longest holes in European Tour golf at 639 yards it’s unsurprisingly a par 5; and even without golf’s CFZ – Mr. Woods, is a pretty well attended outing.

Date:                     2nd – 5th February 2012

Venue:                 Doha GC, Doha, Qatar

This course is described as having teeth – especially when the wind picks up! It measures some 7,388 yards, has eight artificial lakes weaving their way along most of the holes and, with the addition of a punishing rough made up of desert sand, rocks, trees, shrubs and long grass and cleverly bunkered fairways that twist and turn, the utmost accuracy will be of crucial importance. Although uniquely different, this classic links course was designed by Peter Harradine, the same man responsible for the one at Abu Dhabi where last week Robert Rock tamed the Tiger.

Yards:                   7,388 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Headlining the event this week is World Number Two Lee Westwood (10/1 at BlueSq) who is joined by Number Four Kaymer (147/10 at BetFair) and TPC Champion KJ Choi (39/1 at BetDaq). Add a sprinkling of our friendly competitors from across the pond in World Number 10, Jason Day (35/1 at BetFair), Ryder Cup cry baby Hunter Mahon (25/1 at SkyBet) and former US PGA Champion and very low shooting (58 in the 1998 Omega PGA Championship Pro-Am) Shaun Micheel (512/1 at BetFair) and you are squinting into the sun at an interesting golfing shoot out in the desert.

Consider…:

However, there will only be a European winner – if you will permit me to stereotype for a moment. Americans don’t appear to have what it takes to get past the potential security threat of the exceptionally functional keffiyeh’s and the physical (stereotyped) similarity to the amazing self detonating bombers of the surrounding regions. That said, picking one winner from 120 without the American participants is still the challenge we face…

Ones to watch:

This swashbuckling Spaniard showed resurgence to his very best form in the fall of 2011 not least his demolition of fellow tour pros winning by a staggering 11 shots over his home course. It is Sergio Garcia (141/10 at BetDaq) this week who continues to deliver in the sun and fight to regain his rightful Ryder Cup place – and not just drive the Captains golf cart when September comes. A regular top ten finisher in the gulf, including here last year, watch out for continued form from El Nino while he has the wind in his sails…

Three times a winner in 2011 including those unexpected back to back wins in Scotland and Switzerland my glass eye gazes firmly at reigning champion Thomas Bjorn (25/1 at Bodog and BetVictor) as one who will be worth watching this week. Following a career best season, Bjorn delivered an equally inspired performance to tie in third place in Abu Dhabi and looks set to continue a highly productive swing in the Middle East.

Ones to win:

Still struggling to lose the dreadful mid-Atlantic twang but playing exciting competitive golf is Florida’s favourite club wrecker – Ulsterman Graeme MacDowell (18/1 at Coral). With three top three finishes in his last 6 outings he was aided enormously by a hole in one, a holed chip and a ricochet off the grandstand to six feet on 18 in the last 6 holes in Abu Dhabi – MacDowell is a fiery competitor and well used to appearing near the top from seemingly nowhere.

Reigning Dubai World Champion and former Commercialbank Qatar Masters winner Alvaro Quiros (18/1 at Bet365) is again one to win this week – the Middle East is a happy hunting ground for the 28 year-old Spaniard with three of his six European Tour titles having been won in the Gulf, including a triumph here three years ago. Having also finished runner-up on each of his last two visits to the $2.5 million tournament, King Quiros starts as one of the favourites.

Trick shots:

Retief Goosen at 20/1 (Ladbrokes) to be first round leader come Thursday night – he’s been one stroke off this in three of his last four outings. And look at Scott Jamieson at 20/1 (also Ladbrokes) for a just getting a top ten finish – he had five from 31 starts in 2011!

Jenks out!