Race to Dubai: Avantha Masters 2012

Race to Dubai:   Avantha Masters 

After a testing three week Middle East swing, much of Europe’s big hitting high fliers of the European Tour head for a break. Those who now play globally, head directly to Arizona for a practice week ahead of the Accenture World Matchplay. So, you could say it is without the usual suspects, but with longer odds, it makes it even more rewarding.

Date:                     16th – 19th February 2012

Venue:                 DLFG&CC, New Delhi, India

The dramatic Aravali range forms a magnificent backdrop for the stretches of lush turf, rolling fairways, meticulously manicured greens and fairways that compliment the flowers and streams that meander through this quiet paradise. It’s Augusta – only in India. Water is in spectacular abundance – be it in the form of a delightfully cascading waterfall on the 17th or the five lakes that add serenity all their own to the natural beauty of the course so it’s very American.

Yards:                   7,156 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Only ten of the top 60 from the European Tour are competing this weekend and there are 35 Tour winners with 64 event titles between them – the most successful of which is Richard Sterne (but recent return from back injury likely removes his chances of taking the sacred cow come Sunday) (46/1). However, the most recent is Joost Luiten (18/1 with BetVictor) who having knocked on the door towards the tail end of 2011, succeeded in landing the Iskander Johor Open and looks likely to compete at this new higher level more in 2012. However, also joining the field are US born one time Major winners in John Daly (79/1) and now European Tour convert and expert from “just off the green with a hybrid” – it’s Todd Hamilton (314/1 – All with BetDaq)!

Consider…:

The European Tour bridesmaids – who in the absence of the sponsor saturated limelight stealing tweeters stand a great chance of making the breakthrough at events just as this and include Scot Jamieson (42/1), Soren Hansen (49/1), Gareth Maybin (59/1) and Rhys Davis (88/1).  However, if its longer odds you like, look at these three spicy options that may curry favour; Zaw Moe (431/1), Berry Henson (266/1) and the gloriously titled Shanker Das (969/1 – all with BetDaq) – who really should be right down the courts tomorrow to have that changed if he knew what was good for him.

Ones to watch:

Shiv Sanker Prasad, known to all as SSP (Chowrasia) (66/1 at BoyleSports), used to sneak on to the historic Calcutta Golf Course before starting a career in golf as a caddie. Latterly he was persuaded to plough a furrow on the Asian and European Tours as a golfer with two victories to his name. SSP won this event in 2011 and is a firm favourite to place highly again this year. His putter is working as well as it ever has, even if length is not his strongest point. SSP is not one to win.

Great Dane Thorbjorn Oleson (33/1 with Bet365) has made the transition from also ran professional to a quality and oft-in-contention golfer – and did so frequently within 2011 en route to a whopping 640,000 Euros salary from just 30 events. Is one of the players expected to be in contention this week and with relatively attractive odds given his status this week, is surely worth an each way flutter?

Ones to win:

With six top ten finishes in  32 events and a pay check of just shy of 1 Million Euros in 2011, Aberdeen’s former favourite golfer (now that Paul Lawrie’s is firing on all cylinders!) Richie Ramsay (37/1 with BetDaq) is one stepping into contention this week.  With greater statistics in greens in regulation clear to all, his season is yet to see the rewards from the efforts of all of his off season “work” which includes reducing salt and vinegar condiment use on deep fried pizza and trying not to start a fight with Rangers supporters should they meet. His golf is set to improve even if his waistline isn’t.

Welsh born but Macclesfield surviving, Jamie Donaldson (20/1 at SkyBet) is one of the favourites this week after a career best 38th in the Race to Dubai after seven top ten finishes and a third in 2011. Shooting lower than ever already this season and with steady and improving results in his few consecutive outings since December last year, the lack of a top quality field should allow the red dragon to add some a significant win to the three challenge wins already on his Pro golfer CV.

Trick shot:

Richie Ramsay at 9/1 with Ladbrokes as top finishing GB and Ireland competitor.

Thorbjorn Oleson to be first round leader with 40/1 from BetFred.

Jenks out!

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)