After a pleasing start to this years European Tour action on DraftKings and a fantastic long overdue win for Shane Lowry at Abu Dhabi, the European Tour now progress on to The Emirates Golf Club in Dubai where yet again a very strong field compete for the prize described as the major of the Middle East.
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is the European Tour’s longest running event in the Middle East and the history of this tournament and venue have been closely interwoven with the tour since the event’s inaugural edition in 1989, won by former Ryder Cup player and Captain Mark James. Since then, the roll of honour includes ten different Major Champions: Seve Ballesteros (1992), Ernie Els (1994, 2002, 2005), Fred Couples (1995), José María Olazábal (1998), Mark O’Meara (2004), Tiger Woods (2006, 2008), Henrik Stenson (2007), Rory McIlroy (2009, 2015), Danny Willett (2016) and Sergio Garcia (2017).
This year it will be the 30th time this event has been a part of the European Tour Schedule and easy to understand why the players and the tour want to keep coming back to this iconic venue. Surrounded by luxury, a course that is manicured to perfection and a layout that has stood the test of time and watched its spectacular backdrop develop over the relatively short years.
The Venue and Course.
Design and Layout: Opened in 1988 and designed by Karl Litten The Majilis Course at Emirates Golf Club is very much a classic desert layout. Exposed to any present winds, fairways lined with a few shrubs and trees but mainly native desert areas, plenty of water in play and a course from tee box to green manicured and presented to the very highest of standards.
Greens: Regarded as some of the very best surfaces on the European Tour these relatively flat Tiff Eagle Bermuda Greens can be presented with speeds close to 14', however I believe come Thursday morning they will be running something nearer to 13’.
Fairways: Sweeping contours with dog legs featuring on most holes. Fairways cut down-grain and running quicker. I also believe they may even be a little narrower in places this year.
Rough: Bermuda overseeded with perennial Rye, will reduce control of spin on green but very playable and not very deep.. Thicker this year compared to other years
Hazards: Water features on 10 holes, desert frames the course and the bunkering here can present a very tough challenge even for the worlds best.
Key Stats and Attributes.
Distance off the tee: For big hitters like Rory this could offer a decent advantage, there will be a number of holes where players of this elk can cut corners and hit much shorter clubs in, even if that is from off the fairway.
Greens In Regulation: This has been the stand out stat over the years and contributes heavily towards bogey avoidance and birdie or better performance. The greens here are relatively flat and fairly firm, however the biggest defence often being their speed. Players will rarely make mistakes once on these pure greens and plenty a scoring chance will be converted, however what looks like a relatively simple chip or bunker shot can be made to look difficult if contact and pace isn't judged perfectly, hence the importance to find the dance floor on this course and save the struggle of a tough par conversion from 8ft+ on a slippery surface..
Course History: There has been plenty to delve into here with this being the 30th edition of the event. There are certain players that obviously love this track and those that may well enjoy it but just don't perform well for whatever reason.
Recent Form: With the season still being reasonably fresh its always hard to guess who is ready to pop, but we certainly got some great indicators from last weeks outing in Abu Dhabi. Big names have been stepping up and once again I think a good mix of experience and form could play very well once again.
Value and ownership: Personally I'm going to be a little less worried about ownership and not be afraid to use those players that seem like incredible value to my advantage.. Joost Luiten and Tom Lewis were a perfect example of this last week and I'm hoping this week I can find the same core that keeps me in contention for the big bucks late into Sunday.
Sergio Garcia - $11,000
Louis Oosthuizen - $10,000
$9,000 - $10,000
Tyrell Hatton - $9,500
Joost Luiten - $9,100
$8,000 - $9,000
Ian Poulter - $8,900
Lee Westwood - $8,600
$7,000 - $8,000
Alex Bjork - $7,900
David Lipsky - $7,400
$7,000 or less.
Max Kieffer - $6,900
Miguel Jimenez - $6,600
Colin Montgomerie - $6,000
Matt Fitzpatrick $9,600 and Lucas Bjerregaard $7,800
Outright Winner e/w
Sergio and Louis at 14/1 each (2 points each)
Lee Westwood 40/1 (1 point)
Alex Bjork 50/1 (1 point)
David Lipsky 80/1 (1 point)
First Round Leader
Sergio Garcia 22/1 (1 1/2 points)
Louis Oosthuizen 22/1 (1 1/2 points)
Lee Westwood 40/1 (1 point)
Miguel Angel Jimenez 160/1 (1 point)
Sergio Garcia and CH3 - 464/1
Louis Oosthuizen and CH3 - 464/1
One and Done Pick