2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic Betting Preview

Tiger Woods in Dubai (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Tiger Woods in Dubai (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Tiger Woods looks to rebound after a rough week at Torrey Pines, as he heads to the Emirates Golf Club and the European Tour for the 2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic Fact Sheet

  • Course: The Emirates Golf Club
  • Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Yardage: 7,316 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Stephen Gallacher
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Thorbjorn Olesen

TV Schedule

  • Wednesday into Thursday – 10:30 PM (Wed.) to 8:30 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Thursday into Friday – 1:00 AM to 8:30 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday into Saturday – 4:00 AM to 8:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday into Sunday – 4:00 AM to 8:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)

Key Storyline(s) This Week

The main storyline is what I mentioned above: how is Tiger Woods going to respond after his first career MDF and his second highest round ever as a professional? The 79 that he shot on Saturday at Torrey Pines was pretty much as shocking as it gets from the world’s number one player, especially when you consider that it came at a course where he’s racked up eight career wins. He’s got a good track record at the course, which isn’t all that surprising when you realize that he plays well pretty much everywhere he goes, but his two wins should give him some form of comfort after a tough week. Other things to keep an eye on:

  • It’s the 25th anniversary of the event, so they are planning some ceremonial stuff, including every former champion being invited to play in the tournament. Seve Ballesteros’ son Javier will be teeing it up in his dad’s memory.
  • Rory McIlroy is also playing this week at the site of his first career professional victory.
  • Henrik Stenson was bound to cool down at some point, but his start to 2014 has not been what was expected of him. In his two events, he’s missed a cut and finished tied for 28th.
  • Who doesn’t want to watch Fred Couples? Golf’s smoothest swing won here back in 1995, and will be playing here for just the third time since that victory.

The Emirates Golf Club

Top 100 Golf Courses has the single best description of the course online, which I’ve pasted a snippet of below. For more, check out their incredible site here.

The layout follows a blueprint by Karl Litten and it’s literally carved through the desert. Narrow green ribbons of fairway wind their way through natural slightly undulating terrain. Expect to play a few sand shots at The Emirates Club.

Without doubt, the Majlis course is one of the finest layouts in the United Arab Emirates and it’s the well-known venue of the Dubai Desert Classic tournament, which always attracts the world’s best players. The Majlis course now stretches out to some 7,301 yards from the tips with par set at 72. Tall desert dunes frame the perimeter of the course and numerous salt and freshwater lakes come into play on several holes.

Large, fast greens are a hallmark of the Emirates Club and these slick putting surfaces can cause great problems for club golfers, especially if the Course Manager is feeling mean with his pin placements. A cluster of memorable holes will stick in the mind, especially the par three 7th which must carry the full length of a lake and, as with all great courses, the Majlis has a wonderful closing hole which requires an approach shot across yet another lake to a long and thin double green which is fashioned in the shape of a bow tie. The hopes of a number of potential Desert Classic winners – including Ian Woosnam and Tiger Woods – have been dashed at this wicked par five closing hole.

The video below shows off some of the best moments in tournament history as well.

Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Rory McIlroy: As mentioned above, this is the site of his first professional win, and he hasn’t been outside of the top-10 in any of the three years since. His last start, you might recall, resulted in a two-stroke penalty in Abu Dhabi where he ended up one shot behind the winning score of Pablo Larrazabal.
  • Tiger Woods: With Woods, there’s rarely any value on the board with him, so I’m staying away this week but it has nothing to do with the way he played at Torrey Pines. Keep in mind that he won his second event last year after struggling in Abu Dhabi, where he looked awfully rusty. You’d be crazy to count him out.
  • Henrik Stenson: Stenson has played here every year since 2001, with some very mixed results. Five straight top-10’s from 2006 to 2010, including a win, but the best finish outside of that was a tie for 20th to go along with three missed cuts.
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Cabrera-Bello opened with a 63 here in 2012 when he won the tournament, and since then, he hasn’t been above 70 in seven rounds. He probably would have won at least one tournament in the last two weeks as well if third round 73’s hadn’t gotten in the way. Still though, having back to back T4 and T3’s on your record isn’t too bad.
  • Thorbjorn Olesen: In a lot of tournaments, having a week of 68-69-68-68 is enough to win, but Olesen could only manage a tie for third in Qatar last week, his first top-10 since the Johnnie Walker back in August. He’s a very streaky player, and had success here last year, finishing tied for third, five shots back of Gallacher.

Suggested Plays

Thorbjorn Olesen (Best Odds 28-1 at bwin)

Olesen is a streaky player, and you could be getting him here on an upswing. After signing on with Nike last year, he didn’t have the best season but he looked great last week in Qatar, so I really like him at this price.

Peter Hanson (Best Odds 41-1 at Betfair)

One of the best drivers of the golf ball that you’ll find on any tour, and still one of the best putters out there, Hanson has made a habit of flying under the radar in just about every tournament he enters. He rarely has a bad enough round that he puts himself out of contention, but it actually happened last week in Qatar where a third round 75 basically ruined what was otherwise a very good week. His last win came at the BMW Masters back in October of 2012, which is far too long for a player of his quality. Good each-way value here at roughly 40-1.

Ernie Els (Best Odds 61-1 at BETDAQ)

So, Els missed the cut here in his last appearance back in 2009, but if you ignore that for a second, his results here at this course are staggeringly good. Going back to 1993 when he first played here, his results have looked like this:

8th-1st-7th-T3rd-1st-2nd-T3rd-1st-2nd-2nd-T3rd

If you can’t find a way to put him on your card with those kinds of numbers at that kind of price, you’re crazy.

Miguel Angel Jimenez (Best Odds 80-1 at Skybet)

The Mechanic missed the cut last week in Qatar, ending a streak of five consecutive top-20 finishes that included a win in Hong Kong, but I think he gets it turned around here this week at a place where he’s also a past champion. Outside of his win back in 2010, he’s finished inside the top-10 on five other occasions.

Matteo Manassero (Best Odds 108-1 at BETDAQ)

Manassero’s been respectable in his two events in 2014, even with the manufacture switch he made to Callaway in the offseason, and whenever I see his name hovering around 100-1, it’s a must play. He is rarely out of position off the tee, and his short game and putting can match up with just about anyone. The reason he’s available at this kind of price probably has to do with just one top-10 finish since August, but that did come a few weeks ago at the Volvo Golf Champions. He’s too good not to turn this thing around eventually.

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