To be honest, it’s possible to make some sort of case for at least a dozen others such is the strength in depth. Recent winners Ian Poulter or Simon Dyson can’t be ruled out, nor can a plethora of consistent, top-class Europeans like Graeme McDowell, Soren Kjeldsen or Oliver Wilson. Alvaro Quiros’ massive driving distance could prove a big asset here, and the Earth Course may similarly suit brilliant prospects Danny Willett and Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
Scott rates my best pick from the PGA Tour representatives. It’s worth remembering that 18 months ago before breaking a finger, Scott was widely rated the third best in the world, and closing fast on Woods and Mickelson. He’s had an unmitigated disaster since with the putter, but while that weakness remains a concern, Scott has looked in much better nick over the past fortnight and capable of salvaging something out of the year. At his best, this kind of risk-reward, long-hitters’ paradise has proved ideal. Back during that golden spell, he produced the best performance of his career with a final round 61 in nearby Qatar, a tournament he had already won previously.
Recent form is particularly important at this time of the year, when some others will be carrying niggling injuries at the end of a long season. That must bring CHARL SCHWARTZEL and ALEXANDER NOREN into the equation. Despite including them regularly over the past couple of months, neither has yet to reward me with a place payout but I think it’s worth keeping the faith, especially at these 50/1+ odds. With Schwartzel, Sunday’s 11th was his third good effort in four; once again hitting a high percentage of greens in regulation. It is just a matter of eliminating the one bad round.
It’s interesting to compare Noren’s progress to that of Kaymer, as two years ago they were regularly practising together and very closely rated. The Swede has taken longer to start to fulfil his talent, but recent weeks suggest he’s definitely stepped up a gear. I must reiterate my predictions from recent weeks, that having won his first event at Crans, Noren is one to watch very closely over the coming months.
Consistent, similarly named Scandinavians Soren Hansen, Anders Hansen and PETER HANSON all take the eye at 50/1 or more given their usual tee-to-green credentials. Preference is for the latter, whose odds really don’t match his recent form. Four top 20s in his last five starts, including three top eights is a consistent return and he can also boast plenty of form in the region. Hanson was second in the 2007 Abu Dhabi Championship, and was in contention again in that event this year, before one disastrous hole down the stretch sent him down to tenth.
Others in consideration for the final slot included impressive 2009 rookie Gareth Maybin at a silly price, and Louis Oosthuisen, who performed so well in this region back at the start of the season and has crept back into form more recently. Instead though, JOHAN EDFORS gets the nod at 125/1. As a massive driver who rates very highly in the greens in regulation department and makes more than his share of birdies, Edfors has plenty to encourage him on the Earth Course. He has always been, and always will be erratic, but the Swede remains a player well capable of taking a hand when conditions favour his attacking game. He has won in Thailand this year, but remains overdue at this level having not added to the three triumphs during 2006, two of which came in prestigious events at Loch Lomond and The Belfry.
Advised Dubai World Championship betting
3.5pts win MARTIN KAYMER @ 14/1 (GENERAL)
2.5pts win ROSS FISHER @ 20/1 (GENERAL)
1.5pts ew ADAM SCOTT @ 33/1 (GENERAL)
1pt ew CHARL SCHWARTZEL @ 50/1 (STAN JAMES, HILLS, CANBET, EXPEKT)
1pt ew ALEXANDER NOREN @ 55/1 (HILLS, BET365)
1pt ew PETER HANSON @ 66/1 (GENERAL)
0.5pt ew JOHAN EDFORS @ 125/1 (GENERAL)
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
RACE TO DUBAI
2.5pts ew ROSS FISHER @ 20/1
2.5pts ew PAUL CASEY @ 20/1
6pts win PAUL CASEY @ 8/1
1.5pts ew OLIVER WILSON @ 33/1
2008/2009 STATS: -259pts
2007/2008 STATS: +618pts