Kaymer’s victory last year proves that this is an event where the most talented youngsters need not be at a disadvantage. The stats here show that those scoring well in driving distance, and greens in regulation should be favoured, suggesting Kaymer will repeatedly prosper here, and that RORY MCILROY has another golden opportunity to win the first of many top-level events.
 
With the German, I am slightly reluctant to bet because I generally dislike backing defending champions. The fact remains, though, that he has improved considerably since last year’s comfortable breakthrough win, adding another title and finishing runner-up three times in prestigious European events. Nothing has happened to dilute my prediction that Kaymer will go all the way to the top of this sport.
 
Exactly the same applies to McIlroy, who at 20/1 must be the shortest priced non-winner ever seen at this level. They are perfectly justified by his recent form though, with four top-4s and seven top-10s from his last ten starts. Rory showed plenty of promise on this course last year, finishing 11th in what was still one of his first events, and with significant progress made in the meantime, must make any shortlist.
 
ROSS FISHER also made vast amounts of improvement in the last year, not least in the short-game department, which makes it possible to overlook two poor previous efforts on this course. Its not as if he isn’t proven in desert, target golf conditions, with one of his best early performances coming at the Dubai Desert Classic. His huge hitting and world-class approach play could yield some very low scores on this course. By the end of the 2008 season he was in contention virtually every week, and this looks another big opportunity to boost some very plausible Race to Dubai claims.