In contrast, while their odds are nothing to get excited about, both Kaymer and Fisher will be fresh, in-form and well-practiced after taking the week off. Kaymer needs to win this title to land the Money List, and looks as strong a candidate as any. Apparently, he was one of the first to arrive at the Earth Course, and has every reason to feel confident on the basis of previous efforts in the Gulf. Kaymer’s last four visits to the UAE. have yielded finishes of first, second, second and fourth. Furthermore, we must remember that like Casey, Kaymer may have retained the lead in this race without an untimely injury. His form either side of that injury has been top draw, and a strong candidate virtually every week.
 
As we’re carrying a bet on him at 16/1, it was extremely frustrating to see Fisher swerve Hong Kong and therefore make his mathematical task that much harder. In fairness, that strategy will have proved a masterstroke if he should prevail, and Ross can still land the bonus by winning this tournament, so long as Westwood or McIlroy don’t finish second. Ross did complain of tiredness after the HSBC Champions, which came days after his marathon effort to win the World Match Play, so on reflection it was probably better that he freshen up ahead of this pivotal, potentially career-changing event. And let’s not forget that, whether it was the World Match Play events or the Majors, Ross has repeatedly brought his ‘A game’ to the big occasions of 2009.
 
Nevertheless, they present a conundrum from a betting perspective. Whilst I do fancy both players to give this a good run, the same arguments about their price apply. Is either player really less than a 20/1 shot against a field of this quality? My solution is a compromise; with both backed win only and some stake money saved for bigger-priced, better value each-way alternatives.
 
There’s a strong element of guesswork involved, but my first impressions of the Earth Course are that it will ideally suit Kaymer and Fisher, in so far as they are long, straight hitters who amass plenty of birdies. At around 7,700 yards, there should be a distinct advantage to long-hitters, while the ever-present water hazards will demand plenty of greens in regulation. It would appear that Greg Norman’s creation will offer exciting, risk-reward golf, especially over the closing five holes. The island green par-3 17th looks a replica of the Sawgrass masterpiece.
 
Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia would dearly love to end their shocking 2009 droughts here, but will need to improve on their most recent efforts. That’s not to say neither of these class acts is capable of bouncing back though, just as Ernie Els certainly can’t be written off, especially given an enviable record in the Gulf. When the putts drop, he remains world-class but is pretty much unbackable after yet another final hole disaster in Shanghai. Another with rock-solid Gulf credentials is Henrik Stenson, though he’s easier to ignore after two below-par performances.
 
First reserve in my staking plan is Retief Goosen, who would appear to have ideal conditions. Goosen has been rather in and out for a couple of seasons, but has regularly contended in European Tour events and should appreciate these Gulf conditions. He took the eye with a strong finishing tenth on his latest start in Shanghai, and is only reluctantly overlooked because of an inability all summer long to finish the job off when in contention.