Our 3rd of 4 events in the desert takes us to Qatar for another mouth-watering contest with a whole host of World-class players in attendance. With Steve Stricker flying over from the US, we have 4 of the World's top 10 players in Qatar including the top 2 Westwood and Kaymer. Last week's winner Paul Casey is here, as is defending champion Robert Karlsson and 2009 champ Alvaro Quiros. Oh, and we've also got the likes of Goosen, Poulter, Oostuizen, Jimenez, Garcia.....the list is seemingly endless. It's a truly fantastic time to be following European golf at present!
In trying to decipher who will win this week then I suggest you pay heavy credence to our predictor model. The winner from the last 5 tournaments has featured within the top 5 of the published predictor - looking at the selections this week then I wouldn't be at all surprised for that run to extend for another week.
The Harradine-designed Doha Golf Club has hosted this event since its inauguration in 1998 so we have plenty of history to fall back on. At 7,388 yards the course has historically favoured the 'bomber' - wayward drives aren't punished as severely as other courses. It's not the be-all and end-all though as the premium tends to be on finding the exposed greens in regulation and favouring the Bermuda putting surface. That said, a stiff northerly breeze is forecast for the first few days which may level things out somewhat. The par 3s are the toughest element of the course in my opinion, so picking players with a strong mid-iron game is also a positive.
There's a case to be made for almost all of the top 10 players in the betting - Kaymer is well-capable of winning personal back-to-back tournaments and if he plays like he did in Abu Dhabi then he will win again for sure. However this week is likely to play to the strengths of some of his peers a little more. Westwood is the model of consistency, Karlsson is playing some top quality golf at present and Quiros loves this course with form of 2/1 of the last 2 seasons. The biggest surprise for me will be if there's a long-priced winner here. With so much quality on show, I'm expecting a household name to walk away with the title this week.
My tips are below, click here for my spread betting tips for this event.
It's nigh-on impossible to leave Kaymer out of the staking plan after his victory on his last start, another Harradine design in Abu Dhabi. 13/2 isn't remotely attractive in a field of 150-odd players, however that's a justifiable reflection on how well the German is playing at present. Out of all of the Desert Swing events, this is Kaymer's least successful however oppose him at your peril! I've opted to go for a no lose bet strategy with Unibet (click here for alternative no lose bet offers if you've already used your Unibet offer) so this is a pure no-risk 'saver' bet. RESULT: T28
Defending champion Karlsson is almost impossible to shift from the top of the predictor this week and is worthy of a strong each-way punt. We successfully backed the Swede at a massive 50/1 in Dubai a couple of months back and his 5th place finish last week was an excellent warm-up for this event.
His win last year was impressive in that it marked a return to form following a lengthy eye injury which hampered him for much of the prior season. His 3-shot victory was achieved by a combination of excellent ironplay and putting - he was in similar form with the flat stick last week despite the more challenging surfaces and I'd expect him to be a massive factor in this week's festivities...RESULT: T6
Poulter was quite vocal about his dislike of the greens in Bahrain which he described on twitter as 'helter skelter'. It's to his credit that he finished in the top 25 following an opening 72, leading the way for greens in regulation with just 9 missed in his 72 attempts over the week. Poulter putts best when there's a bit more speed in the surface and, in particular, on Bermuda grass. This will be much more to his liking! Poulter finished last season a massive high with a 6th place finish in Singapore, win in Hong Kong and the infamous playoff defeat in Dubai. The one thing in common? Bermuda greens! The market-leading Even money about Poulter finishing top-20 with Sky Bet is also worth more than a cursory look. RESULT: T63
The Mechanic was another who struggled on the greens a little last week - had a few more of the 6-10 footers dropped then he would have won the title by some significant distance. As it was he finished just 1 shot behind winner Paul Casey with a GIR performance which equalled Poulter. Again, history would suggest that the Spaniard prefers this type of surface and he'll be in with a great shout if he can pick up another 0.1 or so on his putting average this week.
Jimenez will be defending his Dubai Desert Classic title next week - one of 3 titles he won last season - however his form is peaking now after an 11th place finish in Abu Dhabi prior to last week. Similar to Poulter, the market-leading 11/10 about Jimenez finishing top-20 with Sky Bet is also a very attractive proposition...RESULT: T74
A 2-hour session with Jose Maria Olazabel was enough to transform Clarke's putting performance last week - after an awful performance with the flat stick in Abu Dhabi, the transformation which saw him in contention until Sunday was noteworthy to say the least. I said in my preamble that I didn't expect a long-priced winner and I'll stick to that, however I wouldn't be surprised to see Clarke in the mix come the weekend (particularly if it's windy as forecast) so there's definite scope for using Clarke as a trading weapon with Betfair (see our Golf Trading article on the left) or Extrabet with their close bet option if you don't fancy the outright bet. RESULT: T12
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:00GMT 1.2.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Finally, we run a weekly competition on our facebook group where you can win a £25 free bet with Paddy Power simply by predicting who will win each week's events -it's great fun and free to join, here's a link to the page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=254181393361