Last week’s 1-2 Quiros and Louis Oosthuisen again have ideal conditions, though that recent form is sufficiently reflected in their shorter odds. In fact I’d be more inclined to back the Qatar 5th, Miguel-Angel Jiminez, who has twice finished runner-up here in the past. Jiminez, who tends to improve with the more golf he plays, would have been a selection here were it not for doubts about a bad back.
Though his 40/1 odds are nothing to get excited about, JOHAN EDFORS looks seriously overdue a win and can improve on a couple of recent placed efforts. With three titles in 2006, Edfors has already proved he has the necessary mettle to win prestigious titles and in my view he is a much more complete player nowadays. A quick study of his stats reveal a player who really should thrive at the Emirates; he ranks very near the top of the driving distance, greens in regulation and par-5 stats. That suspicion would appear to be confirmed by top-15 finishes in 2006 and 2007, when in worse form than now.
Others to consider include last year’s 5th, Graeme McDowell. A proven performer on fast greens, McDowell would have made the staking plan were this not his seasonal debut. I expect to see consistent Scandinavians Soren Hansen and Peter Hanson on the leaderboard again, though the poor win ratios of these two always seems to deter a bet. I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to see another Swede, Alex Noren, improve dramatically on last year’s 54th place because the Emirates seems like his type of course.
Instead of any of those, the final spot in the staking plan goes to the increasingly prolific JEEV-MILKHA SINGH. Consider Singh’s record in 2008, which represented a giant leap forward for India’s leading player. He won four titles, finished second twice, and produced career-best efforts in US Majors, finishing 25th in the Masters and 9th in the USPGA. Notably those last two efforts came at Augusta and Oakland Hills, where the greens are extremely fast like these at the Emirates. Because he’s done little out of the ordinary over the last fortnight, Singh is available at a mouthwatering 45/1, but we should remember that he’d never previously prospered at either venue. Indeed, 16th at Doha was his best ever effort on that course. Unlike those, Singh has produced top form at the Emirates before, finishing 6th back in 2001 when barely known outside Asia and hundreds of places further down the world rankings.