Not sure if anyone is looking at the golf this week or if callit will be starting a thread, so I may as well throw up my preview. I have not gone for Fleetwood but the course description etc might encourage a few, or provide some ideas for other golfers.
The action is very limited on the golf front this week, with both the PGA and European Tours finally taking a few weeks off, before returning for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the South Africa Open in the first week of January. After the South Africa Open, our attentions will be turned to the Desert Swing on the European Tour, but the Asian Tour provides us with some action in Dubai this week and it is worth having a few flutters in what looks a weak field.
The venue for the first staging of this event is the Els Club in Dubai. It will come as little surprise to discover that Ernie Els is the designer of this venue in Dubai Sports City and the 7,538 yard track has recently been voted “Best International New Course” by Links magazine and the “Best New Facility” by Troon Golf. Like many of the Desert Swing venues, it is a very long course and given that this is the first tournament to be played here, it is difficult to be too confident as to how it will play. However Els has provided a good insight into the venue on the Asian Tour website and his comments can be summarised as follows;
It is designed to challenge players to slope shots into the green. The greens will resemble Augusta with many run-off areas, which will punish errant shots. There should be plenty of room off the tee, which will encourage aggressive play, but this is really a second shot golf course that will really test the approach shots of the players. The rough is minimal but shots go away from the pin, so accuracy will be hugely important and a solid scrambling game will be vital if there are some many run off areas. If played off the back course, the course is likely to play very long, with wind also a factor, but Els was hopeful that there will be a mix of tee positions, so driving distance may not be essential.
Form at these desert tracks is very important, but many of this field will have played infrequently at the 3 main venues, but form at the Qatar Masters may prove to be a useful guide for this venue, if our reading of the Els comments is correct.
Tommy Fleetwood is not surprisingly a hot favourite for this, given the strength of the field and the fact that he needs a good result to secure an end of year place in the World’s Top 50 and the playing privileges this entails. He has patchy form in the Desert, but has some solid finishes and the fact that he is a winner at Gleneagles, where form closely links with the Doha Golf Club, suggests that he will enjoy this test. He has also proven in the past that he can play very effectively under pressure, when he secured his playing rights in the last event on the Tour a few years ago. He has a different goal this week, but he will be motivated and 11/2 looks reasonable in a field of this quality. It is not enough to tempt us to back him however and we will look elsewhere for some bets to small stakes.
Gaganjeet Bhullar has had a very disappointing 2014, although he has not been 100% fit throughout the season. This has been a year in which he has gone backwards given that he has featured so prominently in the Asian Tour rankings for the past couple of years and has won 5 titles on this Tour, including the 2013 Indonesia Open. He also came close to winning his first European Tour title in 2013, when he was runner up to Thomas Aiken in the Avantha Masters.
What is interesting about his season is that his two best results came at the start of the year and they were both on the Desery Swing tracks. He was an excellent 10th in the Dubai Desert Classic, when a closing 75 robbed him of a much higher position and he was a solid 22nd in the Qatar Masters. This proves that he is very much at home on these course and the fields were several levels above what he faces this week.
Bhullar is a very powerful and accurate driver at his best and his iron play is also very solid. He is also solid on the greens, with the one area that is of concern is his scrambling. However if he plays to his potential on this course, which should allow him to position his tee shot on most fairways, allowing him to attack the greens with his approaches, we would be hopeful that he can produce four solid days of golf. Very few in the field have a proven ability at these venues and despite his poor second half to the year, there were glimpses last week in Thailand, on a difficult course and against a better field, that he could finish the season strongly.
This is very much a price play as if he is near his best 50/1 underestimates his chance and he is worth an each way interest.
Shiv Kapur is our second bet this week and he comes here on the back of what has been quite a solid year on the European Tour. He had 6 Top 20 finishes in 2014. which included 14th in the Open D’Italia, 12th in the Hong Kong Open and a very solid 18th in the Open De France at the very testing Le Golf National venue.
Importantly Kapur has shown form in the Desert and he was the winner of the Dubai Festival City Challenge Grand Final in 2013 at the Al Badia Golf Club. This was on the Challenge Tour, but the field was stronger than what he faces this week.
Kapur is far from the longest off the tee and if they play from the back tees all week he will be at a disadvantage, but accuracy from the tee and also with his irons is his real strength and he ranked 17th in Driving Accuracy and 18th in Greens In Regulation last year.
28/1 is not a huge price, but with players like Paul Peterson ahead of him in the market (despite his solid form in Asian events and potential), it shows how little depth there is to this event. In the circumstances he is worth an each way interest at these odds.
Shocking field for it alright DV. The 11-2 on Fleetwood is probably backable.
As you say, he will 'be off' in an attempt to crack the top 50. I would assume that is the sole reason he is here. David Howell is tempting. A lot of his better showings have been in the dessert, and usually against fields far removed from this. He will be eager for another good shpwimng on home soil. Matthew Fitzpatrick is another of note. I doubt he will spend too much of his career playing against this dross.
Haven't decided whether to play or not, as haven't had the time to give it much study, but the 11-4 on Angel Cabrera in the Tour Argentino would look a bet if one knew the Duck was treating it seriously. Apart from Andres Romero, the rest of the lads he is against are competing for pittance each week on the Latino America Tour. Fair play to Skybet for pricing up, but I have a feeling they are being very generous on the two time major winner. He is inconsistent, but would win this by a country mile on a going week. And should win it on a poor week. Romero would be 3 times the price of Cabrera most weeks.
Shocking field for it alright DV. The 11-2 on Fleetwood is probably backable. As you say, he will 'be off' in an attempt to crack the top 50. I would assume that is the sole reason he is here. David Howell is tempting. A lot of his better showings ha
Decided to have one more throw of the dice before the Xmas break.
Tommy Fleetwood will be very hard to keep out of the places, and granted equal luck, he should be right there on Sunday. He is a player in fine form, should be suited by the track, has a huge class advantage over most of the field and will be going all out for the victory. Unlike Scott last week, there aren't really any negatives. Yes its a short price, but it is warranted.
David Howell may be a slightly better bet at 18-1. Again he has a class advantage over most of the field. He hasn't been in as good form as the tournament favourite, but he will have had this as a serious target for quite awhile. He still knows how to win as proved last year, and there are very few he will fear.
Hardly mind boggling selections, but yet again this year the end of year winners have nearly all been towards the head of the market. The rags just aren't good enough. If Fleetwood gets off to a good start he could run riot.
Decided to leave the exciting Matthew Fitzpatrick out, and will probably live to regret it!!
5pts e.w Tommy Fleetwood 11-2 1.5pt e.w David Howell 18-1
Waited patiently for someone else to price up the Tour Argentino. Not only did no one else bother, but Skybet pulled there original market. No doubt Cabrera will win in a hack canter now
Decided to have one more throw of the dice before the Xmas break.Tommy Fleetwood will be very hard to keep out of the places, and granted equal luck, he should be right there on Sunday. He is a player in fine form, should be suited by the track, has
Howell has won there in the Desert in the past and lives there.
I dithered at 22/1 so when he was cut I left him alone.
A lot of chat about Rashid Khan but two bets is enough and any more losers will leave me kicking myself more at leaving Fleetwood alone.
Howell has won there in the Desert in the past and lives there.I dithered at 22/1 so when he was cut I left him alone.A lot of chat about Rashid Khan but two bets is enough and any more losers will leave me kicking myself more at leaving Fleetwood al
Seeing as its christmas week and its a quite golf week i thought i would share a golf joke with you lads....: A man was addressing the ball when an announcement came over the loud-speaker: "Will the gentleman on hole number one please not hit from the Ladies' tee box."
The man backs away, a little distracted, then approaches his ball again. As he does, the same announcement comes over the loud-speaker: "Will the gentleman on hole number one please not hit from the Ladies' tee box."
The man is getting irritated now, and after backing away from his shot, approaches his ball one more time. This time the announcement came: "We really need the gentleman on hole number one to move off of the Ladies' tee box!"
To which the man turns around and yells: "And I really need the announcer to shut up and let me play my second shot!"
Seeing as its christmas week and its a quite golf week i thought i would share a golf joke with you lads....: A man was addressing the ball when an announcement came over the loud-speaker: "Will the gentleman on hole number one please not hit from th
+3 for Fleetwood but if it can be classed as a good +3 you could say that.
He was +6 and finished strongly so a decent round on Friday could get him back into the mix in a field of this quality. -4 leading at the moment.
+3 for Fleetwood but if it can be classed as a good +3 you could say that.He was +6 and finished strongly so a decent round on Friday could get him back into the mix in a field of this quality. -4 leading at the moment.