The Omega Dubai Desert Classic signals the end of the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’. After tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Qatar it is Dubai’s turn to play host. Golf is huge in the Emirate state so fans will be delighted to see yet another high-quality field turn up to the Emirates Golf Club. Alongside world number one Rory McIlroy (who heads the betting as he does at most events) both Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood make their first appearances of the season at the Majlis Course. Also in the field is Stephen Gallacher. The Scotsman is looking for his third win at the event in a row at a relatively large 25/1.
The 7,316 yard, par 72 course is very much split into its two nines. The first nine includes just one par five, a number of strong par fours and two tough par threes. It is a very difficult start so anybody who gets going early will put themselves in a good position. The back nine is considerably more friendly. There are three par fives which all tour professionals will be looking to birdie and the last few holes offer particularly good scoring chances. Given the challenging length of many of the holes on the Majlis Course, it is no surprise that the best drivers often place highly at this tournament.
After a good second place finish in Abu Dhabi, you can expect the money to come pouring in for Rory McIlroy. The Ulsterman recorded his first win on the European Tour in this tournament in 2009 and very much enjoys playing in the Gulf. The only problem is that he is so short at 3/1. If you want to include Rory in your betting this week then take advantage of Ladbrokes’ 6/1 for him to be the first round leader; he’s done exactly that in four of his last five outings here.
If not Rory then who? At 25/1 generally Gallagher simply must be included in your bets. He put together a good final round in Qatar which is his usual warm-up event when coming to the Desert Classic. Another European to side with his Henrik Stenson. He’s not hit the heights of his game so far in the Desert Swing but got better last week and as a Dubai resident he is more than capable of dealing with the desert winds should they whip up as forecasted over the weekend.
For a top five finish, go with fan-favourite Lee Westwood at 9/2 with BetVictor. ‘Westy’ has finished runner-up twice in the last five years and has chosen this event to get his season going. He can drive the ball well and if he hits his approaches close enough for his putter to get hot, top five is well within reach. Finally, for a long-shot winner, BetVictor go 66/1 for an Ernie Els win. His steady if unspectacular form makes him a worth shout for small stakes to claim his fourth victory at this event.