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)

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!

Race to Dubai: Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Race to Dubai:   Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Date:                     26th – 29th January 2012

Congratulations Luke Donald! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Chinese New Year and the briefest of mentions of all the other good things worth celebrating since the last Race to Dubai post back in mid December last year. It seems so long ago but we can confirm we are well rested, well watered and counting with more fingers than Paul Daniels can, know that the quantity of Quality Street tins consumed confirms we have also been well fed.

And, so back to work…

We have arrived at the fourth event in the 2012 Race to Dubai calendar and after a few warming-up weeks in the glorious Southern Hemisphere and specifically three fabulous golfing locations in South Africa. This week, all eyes head to the desert and the real start of the Greatest Show on Earth – it’s the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Raising the curtain on the seventh star studded visit to the Middle East demonstrating the true international allure of the DP World Tour Championship.

Venue:                 Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, UAE

An oasis of tranquility carved out of the desert, Abu Dhabi Golf Club offers one of the most luxurious golf resort experiences in the Middle East. Its par-72, 7,334-yard Championship course provides a tough-but-fair challenge with 18 holes of lush fairways, strategically placed bunkers and generous greens.

Overlooking the golf course is the impressive clubhouse, built in the shape of a nazi-esque falcon with its wings outstretched. As you look across the lakes from the far end of the course, the Clubhouse somewhat dominates the scene not least providing a frightening backdrop at the business end of your round at the testing 567 yard par 5 18th.

Yards:                   7,334 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Three current reigning Major Champions head the 2012 line-up, with Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel (30/1 – Bet365), US Open Champion Rory McIlroy (7/1 at Ladbrokes) and Open Champion Darren Clarke (237/1 with Betfair) all competing for the lion’s share of the US$2.7 million prize fund at Abu Dhabi Golf Club where a cheque for 450,000 Euros awaits the winner.

The trio will be joined by World Number One Luke Donald (14/1 at Ladbrokes) and three other players that have reached the summit of the sport’s rankings: golfer of the month for November/December Martin Kaymer (another 7/1 at Ladbrokes), the defending champion and three-time Falcon trophy winner, Englishman Lee Westwood (64/5 at BetFair), and Abu Dhabi’s biggest debutant, sucked in by the mere mention of a “swing in the desert”; one Tiger Woods of America ((/1 at Ladbrokes), a 14-time Major Champion.

The field also comprises those at (long) odds with themselves including SSP Chowrasia (at 1,250/1 with Bet365), Stuart Fee (at 2,500/1 with Ladbrokes) and Ahmed Al Musharrekh (5,000/1 with SkyBet). And oh – how the mighty fall! While you are at it observe former Open Champion Todd Hamilton (at 1,000/1 with Bet365)

Consider…:

After three “home events” it is the South Africans who cannot be overlooked as they have all been on form and have all been in contention – especially the new boy on the scene – Brandon Grace (61/1 at BetFair). Only the second player ever to follow their first Tour win with another culminating in two wins and a 14th place from three events since January. That’s the tour card secured; daylight already in the Race to Dubai and you would be hard pushed not to see him at the DP World Tour Championships in December!! How’s that for a start to the year for you?

Then we have the young brigade who are made up of Matteo Mannesaro (208/1 at BetFair) and Tom Lewis (151/1 also BetFair) who have proven their credentials with three tour wins last year between them with Lewis’ coming on only his third outing as a pro!

Don’t overlook Lawrie (275/1 with BetFair) – who finished the season so strongly at the Dubai World Championship in December securing a career best top 20 Race to Dubai finish – and Westwood – who’s deadly pre-Christmas form meant two wins in three outings and the retaking of the vital World Number 2 spot from Rors.

Ones to watch:

Rusty by his own admission, but with a stunning victory in December in these very climes, and with plenty of time to take a good hard look at himself after a largely disappointing 2011 season (until the last outing!) its Alvaro Quiros (33/1 at William Hill) who provides offers of hope, huge distance and excitement on the course – if he stays within its boundaries.

If he has come half way around the world with offers of romantic liaisons and late evening trysts in the desert, then I am afraid he will be sourly disappointed. But on matters golf, and even without a proper win (only winning his own invitational event met the mark in 2011) since 2009, it’s a certain Eldrick Tiger Woods (9/1 at Ladbrokes) that generates interest in the event, excites the players and confirming via Twitter (as he did) that he is fit and ready to play, makes watching this event an absolute requirement.

Ones to win:

The son of a green keeper – which in my book, means they can really play golf (and I mean really play!) – Robert Karllson (59/1 at BetDaq) likes golf, Gulf style having won the Dubai World Championship and the Qatar Masters in recent seasons. The Swedish beanpole is a consistent performer with a new found length in 2012. His new Adams Golf driver has apparently added 18 yards to his already decent distance with the long stick from the tee.

While denting his confidence from a bogey finish last weekend leaving him out of the play off – young gun Nicolas Colsaerts (75/1 at BetFair) looks set to quickly shake the badness off with more consistent golf that saw a very steady season and his maiden Tour victory in 2011. A better and more steady golfer in every way – distance, putting, putts per round and greater accuracy – it seems everyone is taking a leaf from Luke Donald’s book!

Trick shot:

Robert Rock as first round leader punt at 100/1 (StanJames) looks great after his low scoring Sunday at Fancourt as does the likelihood of a play off at 5/2 (SKYBet).

Jenks out!

2012 PGA Tour: Jenkins Joins Ranks

Due to the unprecidented success within golf predictions and the delivery of entertaining blog posts relative to each weeks European Tour events, David Jenkins has been asked to “do likewise” with the PGA Tour and the 45 events that make up the 2012 calendar.

With the PGA TOUR having released its 2012 schedule, featuring 45 official money tournaments, the same number and configuration as 2011 with 37 during the Regular Season, four PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup tournaments and the four-tournament Fall Series, it ensures that any golf betting success will be a marathon not a sprint for the UKs best golf tipster.

Regarding the 2012 roster, there are some notable changes to this seasons PGA Tour, including new dates or host sites for tournaments, plus an off week that shifts one week later during the Playoffs to precede the finale, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Additionally, two new title sponsors are represented on the schedule with the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation in La Quinta, Calif., and the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

“The 2012 schedule again demonstrates the strength of our sport with a very strong collection of tournaments, venues and sponsors that provide outstanding playing opportunities for our members and attractive viewing options for our fans,” PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said. “The FedExCup and the PGA TOUR Playoffs continue to generate interest and excitement through September, with the Fall Series focusing on the drama of players fighting for their playing privileges.”

The first change from 2011 occurs with the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Hawaii, concluding on Monday, Jan. 9, rather than Sunday. This, in part, will allow tournament promotion by NBC and Golf Channel during the NFL Playoff weekend and Golf Channel to televise the final round prior to the start of the BCS National Championship football game.

As previously announced, another prominent early-season change occurs with the Humana Challenge, scheduled for Jan. 16-22. The former Bob Hope Classic is revamping its pro-am format from five rounds to four and from pro-am teams to a single amateur being paired with a professional each round. Additionally, Humana, the Clinton Foundation and the PGA TOUR are using tournament week to promote individual health and well-being, including a first-ever national conference on Tuesday highlighted by a keynote address from former President William J. Clinton.

In addition to getting a new title sponsor, the RBC Heritage returns to its traditional week in April immediately following the Masters Tournament, with the Valero Texas Open moving back a week to follow the RBC Heritage, which is scheduled for April 9-15.

Four tournaments will be held at different courses than were used in 2011, including two Playoff tournaments — The Barclays opens the Playoffs Aug. 20-26 at Bethpage State Park-Black Course on Long Island, N.Y., and the third Playoff event, the BMW Championship, will be held for the first time at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Indianapolis, Ind., Sept. 3-9.

The other two changes are the AT&T National returning to Congressional Country Club in Washington, D.C., the week of June 25-July 1 following a two-year absence, and the RBC Canadian Open moving east to Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Ontario, July 23-29.

The structure of the schedule remains the same, with the PGA TOUR following its traditional two-week opening in Hawaii with a six-week West Coast swing, concluding with the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, Feb. 20-26. The Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico will be held the same week.

The TOUR then moves through the Southeast, Puerto Rico and Texas over the next 13 weeks, beginning with four straight weeks in Florida and ending in Texas with the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. The year’s first major championship, the Masters, is scheduled for April 2-8. THE PLAYERS will be held May 7-13.

The next 10 weeks are spent primarily in the Midwest and Northeast, beginning May 28-June 3 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance in Dublin, Ohio, and ending with the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, July 30-Aug. 5. The exceptions are the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco, June 11-17; The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s Golf Club in England and the renamed True South Classic in Madison, Miss., July 16-22; and the Reno-Tahoe Open, held the same week as the Bridgestone Invitational.

Following the PGA Championship on Aug. 6-12 at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, S.C., the Wyndham Championship, set for August 13-19 in Greensboro, N.C., provides players with the final shot at finishing among the top 125 in FedExCup points and qualifying for the Playoffs, which begin the following week at The Barclays.

After The Barclays, the next Playoffs event is the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston with its traditional Labor Day Monday finish. Then the Playoffs move to the BMW Championship before taking a one-week break prior to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in Atlanta, scheduled for Sept. 17-23. The Ryder Cup immediately follows the Playoffs at Medinah Country Club, Ill..

The Fall Series, which finalizes the 125 exempt players for the following year based on final money standings, begins Oct. 1-7 with the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and is followed by the Frys.com Open, Oct. 8-14, and The McGladrey Classic, Oct. 15-21.

Play then shifts to Asia with the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia and World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China before returning for the Fall Series conclusion at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic on Nov. 5-11.

Race to Dubai: Bonus pool slashed

Author: SkySports

The European Tour’s Race to Dubai end-of-season bonus pool is being cut in half from £4.8million to £2.4 million.

In addition, only ten players, rather than 15, will now share out the extra reward for their year’s work.

Luke Donald scooped £951,000 for topping the 2011 money list last month, but that will come down to £642,000 this season, while the bonus for coming tenth is to be reduced from £190,000 to £64,000.

The payments will be made at the end of the renamed DP World Tour Championship in Dubai from November 22 to 25.

However, the prize fund at the European Tour’s season finale has been increased to £5.1million from £4.7million, with the winner’s cheque going up from £793,000 to £844,000.

Selectabet: Dubai World Championship

Date:                     8th – 11th December 2011

Competition:     Dubai World Championship presented by DP World

It’s all about the Benjamin’s…and with a share of US $7.5 million up for grabs in both The Race to Dubai and the Dubai World Championship, the total prize fund on offer this week is one of the most lucrative in all sports.

Entrance at this week’s season finale is strictly for the 60 top performing (by money) Professionals across the full season but it is the bonus pool that most are playing for, given the Championship itself is a two horse race, and in order to achieve a share, you must be in the top 15 leading money winners when the last putt is holed on Sunday.

Venue:                 The Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE

The Earth course is the first course ever to have been built for a specific championship and unveiled as the first shot was hit at that Championship. Some say it’s not one for strategy but it does require you to hit it straight, high and long – although some of the courses 105 bunkers are also strategically placed in the middle off the tee.

For all the agronomists amongst you; with the tournament taking place two weeks later this year it has given Jumeirah Golf Estates the opportunity to overseed the tees, fairways and rough on the Earth Course with ryegrass. It will be the first time the Earth Course has been overseeded for the event and will give even greater contrast and definition to the brilliant white bunkers and bark mulched landscape areas. It will also provide a tougher challenge to the players than was the case in 2009 and 2010, with more of a premium on finding the fairways with tee shots.

Yards:                   7,675 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

There should be no also rans this week as the biggest, best and most consistent (lets also not forget Darren Clarke) from the European Tour will fight it out for big bucks this weekend in the Race to Dubai season finale (trying not to sound like I’m plugging the last show of some weak plotted American Cop action series reshown on Channel 5).

The big guns you would expect, are all here – counted, present and ready, although there are some surprise entries close to the squeaky bum cut off line nearing the 60 mark. These include James Morrison (360/1) in 55th  – fresh from a sell-out performance at the Picture House in Edinburgh on the 6th December; the famous Lawrie Brothers; “fly away Peter (256/1)” and “fly away Paul (370/1)” in 57th and 56th place respectively; Henne Otto (237/1) – who thanks to a win last week in South Africa makes the grade in 58th; Scotland’s Scott Jamieson (569/1) in 59th who has achieved more or less nothing since July (demonstrating how good a first half of the season he had) and in the last available place – some lad called Christian Nilsson (265/1 – all BetFair) who made it courtesy of a strong October’s work on the greens.

Consider…:

“The Greatest Show on Earth” comes down to the battle between the two best players in the world for the Race to Dubai crown. Due to Luke Donald’s (12/1 at SkyBet) enormous lead, McIlrory is required to win the Dubai World Championship and Donald has to finish 10th or worse for the Irish one to win – even if Rory wins while Donald finishes in 9th, the winning margin (in favour of the current world number one) would only be five Euros!!

This is a long track and accuracy is not the ultimate factor but with tricky bunkering and strategically placed water, it will be a case of “he who dares…”  Course designer Greg Norman created this track specifically for this event and spent time ensuring a great climax which has become known as the toughest home stretch in the golfing calendar where the last four holes fall just short of a mile in length and are the most challenging and exciting in the sport.

Ones to watch:

A rejuvenated Sergio Garcia (16/1 at 188Bet) hopes to keep his impressive run of form going right to the end of the 2011 campaign as he targets a place in the top 15 in The Race to Dubai. The Spaniard completed back-to-back successes for the first time on The European Tour with victory in last month’s Andalucía Masters, a week after also winning on home soil in the Castelló Masters and moving from 11th place to seventh in The Race. The World number 18 currently leads the Ryder Cup points list and will be keen to put another top finish her in the bag for the team event next year, as a player, not just as backroom staff.

Win or “lose” this weekend, the eyes of the golfing world will be on Rory McIlroy (11/2 with BetDaq). Can he overturn the largest lead in professional golf, stop the world number one, win the Race to Dubai and the Dubai World Championship? I fear not, but if anyone will ensure we remain glued to the box, sitting on the edge of our seats until his ball hits the bottom of the cup on Sunday, it’s the exciting youngster who’s season has been spell binding from the start to present moment. A top four finish would be a great achievement and another feather in the young man’s cap.

Ones to win the Dubai World Championship:

With 8 top ten finishes this year Lee Westwood (6/1 at BetFred) is one tip to take the honours this week. The world No. 3 had the benefit of a seven-shot lead heading into the final round after a sparkling third-round 62 last Saturday in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa and comes here with form on his side and experience from his win in the same event in 2009. Will be a difficult contender to beat – and with Luke and McIlrory both having firmed up their positions in the World rankings, Lee will be looking to ensure he doesn’t fall too far behind.

Raking in over a cool million Euros in an easy schedule over the last three months, Martin Kaymer (16/1 at UniBet or 9/1 at SkyBet without the Big 2) and his win in the WGC HSBC Champions in early November have catapulted the calculating German right back into form and the fight at the top of the World Rankings. Sure he can’t win the Race to Dubai this year, but he will make sure he doesn’t give up the biggest prize in golf easily will be something that he will take great pleasure from after a rather uninspiring season – especially after last year’s amazing performances.

One to win the Race to Dubai:

Luke or Rory? Rory or Luke? Steady versus aggressive? Youth versus experience? For me only one person truly deserves to be awarded the Race to Dubai this year – despite a late charge that means that it is only one from a possible two – and they exist as World Number 1 and 2 respectively just for completeness.

In twelve outings in Europe, he has missed only one cut, and barring a 45th and an 11th position – the other 9 outings have been within the top ten and within that there has been three wins! Earning a whopping £3,856,394 – that equates to winnings of a whopping £1,210.78 per shot and we are not even on the big money game yet! He has also snatched the money list title of the PGA Tour and is the first person ever to be on the cusp of doing so on both sides of the pond in the same season.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your truly inspirational World Number 1, PGA Tour Money winner and soon to be Race to Dubai winner 2011 is…..Luke Donald. Thank you, good evening and good night.

Till next year…Jenks out!

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