Starts: 27 January 2022
Course: Emirates GC, Dubai
Par: 72 (35-37)
Length: 7,424 yards
2021 Champion: Paul Casey
Overall Profit/Loss: -16pts
Pre-Event Bets: -8.5pts
1pt Each Way Robert MacIntyre 60/1 @ Bet365 (1/4 1-5)
0.75pts Each Way Nicolai Hojgaard 60/1 @ Skybet (1/5 1-7)
0.75pts Each Way Lee Westwood 66/1 @ Skybet (1/5 1-7)
0.75pts Each Way Rasmus Hojgaard 66/1 @ Skybet (1/5 1-7)
0.5pts Each Way Thorbjorn Olesen 125/1 @ William Hill (1/5 1-8)
1pt Rory McIIroy to lead after every round 66/1 @ Skybet (Note: this bet is also known as wire to wire winner)
In-Play Bets: -7.5pts
29 January 2022(-4pts)
4pts Win Only Rory McIlroy 9/4 @ Coral/Ladbrokes
27 January 2022 (-3.5pts)
1pt Each Way Kiradech Aphibarnrat 80/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1-5)
0.75pts Each Way Brandon Stone 100/1 @ Skybet (1/5 -5)
Course Designer: Karl Litten
Water Hazards: On 9 holes
Par 5's: 3rd, 10th, 13th, 18th
Hosted Since: 1989
Premium on: Putting
It will be sunny all week with the wind picking up each afternoon.
Sunny. Max Wind 11mph.
Sunny. Max Wind 14mph.
Sunny. Max Wind 13mph.
Sunny. Max Wind 13mph.
Significant Info To Be Aware Of
-This is only the second event in 2022 for the DP World Tour. You may see rust from some players.
-Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
With the exception of 2020, the winning score has been between -16 and -24 in the last ten editions. Severe wind in 2020 meant the winning score was -9.
World ranking of the last five winners prior to their win was 27-223-5-60-15-19 (most recent first). Winners are generally shorter odds.
The Portugal Masters, with its wide fairways and plentiful birdies, has plenty of crossover form.
Absolutely crucial. Of the last eleven winners, ten had posted a top 20 prior to winning. The only player who didn't, Haotong Li, had posted a top 40 finish in his only appearance prior to winning.
Since the Abu Dhabi Championship began preceding Dubai in 2018, we've seen winners have mixed form at Abu Dhabi before winning in Dubai. Haotong Li won in 2018 after missing the cut in 2018 and Lucas Herbert won in 2020 after a 67th place finish.
Every champion in the past eight years had teed it up in the calendar year prior to winning.
Winners have hailed from a number of different countries. We've seen four Spanish and six UK winners in the past 12 years.
Strokes Gained stats are available since 2018 on the European Tour. Preference is for a strong driver who finds a hot putter.
SG: Off The Tee
In the past four years no winner has ranked worse than 38th in this category. The past four champions have ranked 6-5-11-38 (latest year first) in this category.
The past four champion rankings have been 2-74-16-27 (latest year first).
SG: Around the greens
Windy conditions in 2020 meant short game was at a premium and this was evident as Herbert and runner up, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, ranked 5th and 3rd in this category. However, Paul Casey ranked 19th last year and the the two winners previously ranked 46th and 36th.
The winner generally needs to putt well. The past four champions have ranked 57-18-5-3 in this category. It should be noted that he greens in 2021 were exceptionally poor and were ripped up immediately after the tournament ended.
Par 4's 6th, 9th and 12th traditionally play as the hardest on the course.
The four par 5s (3rd, 10th, 13th, 18th), played the easiest last year and need to be taken advantage of.
Fast or Slow Start
In the last ten years only two winners have opened with a score worse than 67 in round one! Eight of the past ten had been leading after the third round. It is not a course to play catch up unless conditions make it tough.
The 17th and 18th both rank among the five easiest holes on the course. However, players must negotiate water up the last and we saw Christiaan Bezuidenhout hit his 3rd shot at the 72nd hole in 2020 into the water.
2021 Course Notes
Once again, the winner didn't play Abu Dhabi. However, rest of the top 5 did, 3 of them missing the cut.
Two of the top five (Stone and Samooja) both started at 200/1. Canter was 80/1.
The back nine plays considerably easier than the front nine. Holes 2, 3 and 5 are the only holes on the front nine with a scoring average of par or better.
The greens were extremely poor in 2021 and have been replaced for the 2022 tournament.
In 2021, there was hardly any wind whatsoever. Wind was at its strongest on Saturday.
Hard to catch up
Paul Casey was never in any danger as both Stone and MacIntyre crumbled.
2021 Player Notes
BRANDON STONE: Yeah, obviously extremely proud of the performance I put up this week. Played some lovely golf, considering I was -- I think I was 2- or 3-over through five holes on Thursday.
THOMAS DETRY: The course, it can bite you at any time. There's some thick rough around the green and hazards on tee shots, as well. Yeah, the key is knowing when to hitting a conservative shot and hitting aggressive shots.
JUSTIN HARDING: The course can be a bit challenging, especially in the afternoon. Greens get firm. The course has strong par 4s and if you miss the fairway, it certainly is a bit challenging. But you've just got to try and take advantage of a couple of par 5s out there and see what happens.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think I've always preferred playing from the fairway than the rough so I tried to continue to do that. I didn't hit a fairway today until the 10th hole and then didn't miss one for the rest of the round. I think it's probably the sign of a great golf course that people have different opinions and how you can play it and stuff and hit different shots off different tees. I like that about the course. It gives you options.
Dubai Desert Classic In-Play Blog
29 January 2022, 6:30pm (UK time)
|Six players tied||-8|
Firm and fast greens at the Emirates caused problems in round three and Justin Harding has retained his two shot lead going into the final round.
Harding (14/5) is a two time winner on the European Tour but as we mentioned in our 3rd round blog, he's got history of collapsing in the final round. We were on him last week as he closed with four bogeys in his final six holes.
More worrying for Harding backers will be the fact he threw away a four shot lead in the final round of the South African Open in December. He also had a similar outcome when leading the Kenya Savannah Classic by three shots through 54 holes in March last year.
Contrast those performances with a strong final round to win the Kenya Open last year and it's fair to say we can't write him off completely. In truth, it's hard to know which Harding will turn up tomorrow but we're happy to take him on based on recent evidence.
In Harding's favour is the fact third round leaders have won four of the last five renewals here. The only year that a leader didn't convert was 2020 and we had extreme winds that day which caused a number of players to falter.
Rory McIlroy (9/4) is the man closest to Harding and the man we liked in yesterday's blog. We had advised Rory to win wire to wire at 66/1 an whilst that bet has lost, we still see him as the most likely winner tomorrow.
The two players at nine under par both need to be respected. Erik Van Rooyen (15/2) was the last man off the putting green on Thursday evening in Dubai and his putting and approach play have been the basis for his position on the leaderboard. A winner on the PGA Tour and European Tour, he's certainly elevated his game to a new level since becoming a father.
Tommy Fleetwood (9/1) has had his issues closing out tournaments recently (he's not won since November 2019) but he relishes the chaser role and he too can't be discounted. He ranks 1st for SG: Off The Tee and 2nd SG: Approach this week so he just needs the putter to behave.
Weather for the 4th round will be sunny with wind peaking around 13mph.
Round 3 Bet
- 4pts Win Only Rory McIlroy 9/4 @ Coral/Ladbrokes
We've liked Rory all week and nothing we've seen over the past few days has dissuaded us from the belief that he gets the job done tomorrow. All aspects of his game are strong this week and were it not for a few short putts missed in the 2nd round, he'd be leading going into the final round. He's as comfortable as anyone at the Emirates and he's a player who gains confidence from past successes. We're prepared to forgive his poor final round at the DP World Tour Championship where he lost out to Collin Morikawa. With all due respect to Justin Harding, he isn't in the same class as Morikawa and Rory should be shorter in the betting in our opinion.
29 January 2022, 7:00am (UK time)
|Five players tied||-7|
An eagle at the tough par 4 6th hole helped Justin Harding to a two stroke lead at the halfway point at the Dubai Desert Classic.
The third round is already underway and the leaders are off in just over an hour so this is a very quick blog.
Despite Harding's lead, Tyrrell Hatton is 7/2 favourite. He too had a hole out but it came on the 14th when it looked like he might drop a shot after an errant tee shot. He spoke post round about how his "game is in a good spot" and it would be a surprise if he weren't challenging on Sunday.
Rory McIlroy is next in the betting at 5/1 and we'd slightly favour Rory over Tyrrell at the available odds. Rory missed a number of really short putts yesterday in what was a pretty solid performance. We're expecting him to close the gap on the leader today.
Harding and Viktor Hovland are next in the betting at 13/2 and we'd definitely prefer the price on Hovland. Harding is a two time winner on the European Tour but he's not averse to a final round meltdown. We were on him last week as he closed with four bogeys in his final six holes. Final round collapses at last year's Kenya Savannah Classic and Irish Open make it hard to take him at 13/2.
Only two of the last five leaders at halfway have converted in Dubai but other than a freak year in 2020, winners have been up with the pace. Four of the last five winners were inside the top six after 36 holes.
Weather for the 3rd round will be sunny with wind peaking around 13mph.
Round 3 Bet
- No bet
Given the time constraints we're not making an official play. Rory McIlroy would be the one we'd be most interested in but we'll be back to preview the final round later today.
27 January 2022, 7:30pm (UK time)
|Harding (thru 17)||-6|
|Zanotti (thru 17)||-5|
Several players are yet to finish but a bogey free 65 was enough to give JB Hansen the lead after the opening 18 holes at the Dubai Desert Classic.
The Dane is now a 12/1 shot to win his 3rd European Tour title and it's not unthinkable that he could do so. He won the AVIV Dubai Championship at the end of last year and went on to post a top 10 finish at the DP World Tour Championship the following week. He led after the first and third rounds at the AVIV so we know he's a player know knows how to front run.
Ahead of him in the betting are Viktor Hovland (6/1) and Collin Morikawa (7/1). The PGA Tour stars both opened with a 68 but it was Hovland who will be far happier with his days work. Morikawa reached 7 under par before slipping back with three bogeys in his closing four holes. Both have excellent chances of winning this event and we aren't writing off either of them.
Sergio Garcia (17/2) and Tommy Fleetwood (9/1) are the only other players ahead of Hansen in the betting. We'd prefer Hovland and Morikawa over both of them but if either putt well over the next three days they possess the long game attributes to win.
Four of the last five winners of this event have been inside the top 5 after round 1. Haotong Li was the only player who was out with the top 5 after the first 18 holes and even then he was 10th after round 1 in 2018. We have therefore focused our attention on those who are nearer the top of the leaderboard.
Weather for the 2nd round will be sunny with wind peaking around 14mph.
Round 2 Bets
- 1pt Each Way Kiradech Aphibarnrat 80/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1-5)
Kiradech wasn't on our shortlist for this event due to a fairly miserable record here in Dubai. However, an opening 68 leaves him in a good position and he can be expected to kick on over the next few days. His iron play was a particular strength in round 1, ranking 4th for SG: Approach. He won at the end of 2021 in Thailand and also put in a strong showing at the BMW PGA Championship last Autumn. He's a proven winner on tour and odds of 80/1 are sufficiently tempting for us to get involved.
- 0.75pts Each Way Brandon Stone 100/1 @ Skybet (1/5 -5)
We watched quite a bit of Brandon today and liked what we saw for the majority of his round. He was strong off the tee, ranking 6th SG: Off The Tee. He was runner up last year in this event and also 7th in 2017. He clearly likes it here in Dubai and should he continue his strong performance off the tee he'll set up plenty of birdie chances over the final 54 holes. He's won two really big events in his career, the Scottish Open and the South African Open. He's capable of winning this week even if we do have a strong field.