Dubai Desert Classic betting guide

The final leg of the ‘Middle-East Swing’ starts on Thursday with one very notable absentee, the defending champion. In recent years, this event has offered a rare opportunity for Euro Tour fans to see Tiger Woods and hopefully the great man will be back to full fitness and gracing us with his presence when the Tour returns to the region in November for the finale of the Race to Dubai.
 
In his absence, the event looks much more open than usual, accentuated by the fact that big question marks surround the other course specialist. Ernie Els’ record at the Emirates Course can only be described as phenomenal. Twice champion, Els has never finished below third on this course, and would have a couple more titles had he not been scared out of it by Tiger. On that record, 11/1 would seem the bet of the year, especially as he’s usually started shorter than that with Woods in the field.
 
However, all great runs come to an end, and there is nothing whatsoever in Ernie’s recent form to recommend a bet. His record at all three venues so far this season; Kapalua, Waialae and Doha; was also extremely impressive, yet he failed each time. His long game is not far off his best, and he remains one of the world’s great scramblers, but Ernie looks very weak with the putter. And that could spell doom on these extremely fast greens.
 
Those greens arguably represent the most important feature of the Emirates. At 12.5 on the stimpmeter, the only other surfaces anywhere near this fast on the schedule are at Augusta and Valderrama. At least unlike those two, they’re pretty flat. Besides putting, driving distance is a big advantage around this course, and par-5 scoring is pivotal. Racking up birdies and eagles on the long holes has proved the cornerstone to the success of Woods, Els and Henrik Stenson here in recent years.