The third and final leg of the European Tour’s desert swing takes place this week as a host of stars head to Dubai for the Dubai Desert Classic.
Among them are Sergio Garcia, who finished in a tie for second last week in Qatar, and Lee Westwood, who is making his 2013 season debut.
They will be attempting to take the crown of Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who won his first European Tour title at the impressive Emirates Golf Club last season.
The Majlis Course – the first all-grass layout in the gulf – will host the tournament once more, and players will have to negotiate dunes, seven lakes, local flora and numerous desert areas.
It is golf course that is well suited to Spaniards, with Miguel Angel Jimenez winning in 2010 and Alvaro Quiros in 2011.
Garcia is the 5/1 favourite with Ladbrokes this week, but there just isn’t any value in his price.
Once again, I’m going to put my faith in Paul Casey, who is 25/1 with Ladbrokes this week. Casey has played some solid golf over the desert swing and has only finished outside the top 23 on the European Tour once in his last seven starts. He seems to have rediscovered his confidence and, as such, I think a win is just around the corner.
Jamie Donaldson, at 25/1 with Ladbrokes, is another I fancy to do well this week. He wisely took a week off last week after winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and his odds seem generous given how well he played at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. He will also be supremely confident after holding off world number four Justin Rose, and self-belief, coupled with good form, is a dangerous combination.
Steve Webster, at 50/1 with Ladbrokes, also looks generously priced this week, given he is one of the European Tour’s form golfers. He finished in a tie for second at the season-opening Nelson Mandela Championship, seventh the following week at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and fourth last week in Qatar, where he showed his proficiency for desert golf. On the European Tour this season, he ranks 13th in Stroke average, 17th in Driving Accuracy and second in Greens in Regulation.
Ricardo Santos, at 80/1 with Ladbrokes, simply cannot be ignored at such a price. He has been playing some fine golf over the last two weeks, including a fourth-place finish in Abu Dhabi, and only a third-round 76 last week stopped him from contending. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Santos mounting a challenge this week.
Andy Sullivan, at 100/1 with Ladbrokes, is a good outside bet this week. The Englishman has made a successful start to his second season on the European Tour, finishing third at the Alfred Duhill Championship and ninth at last week’s Qatar Masters, where he finished with a seven-under-par 65. If he can avoid that one bad round, he could be a force to be reckoned with this week.
Dubai Desert Classic advised bets:
2pts each way on Paul Casey at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Jamie Donaldson at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Steve Webster at 50/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Ricardo Santos at 80/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Andy Sullivan at 100/1 with Ladbrokes