For details of how to claim any of the new account offers listed below read our free bets for golf betting guide here!
After more than 11 months of battle - stretching all the way back to the start of December last year - we finally arrive at the season's finale in Dubai. Some years we've arrived at this point with the Race to Dubai already sewn up, however that's far from the case this year with 3 players in with a theoretical chance of becoming European No.1 for 2017 and we're in for a real treat this week as the competition reaches its conclusion over the weekend.
As we head to Greg Norman's Earth Course, long-time Race To Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood holds a lead of over 250,000 points over 2nd place Justin Rose, however both men have their destiny in their own hands as victory by either will see them crowned the Race to Dubai Champion for 2017 regardless of what else happens this week. With the masses of points on offer this week, Rose can still get the job done with slightly less than a victory depending on how well Fleetwood performs, however nothing can be taken for granted and both men will surely be targeting a win here.
The third and final player in with a chance of taking the overall Race to Dubai title is Masters Champion Sergio Garcia who hasn't played since winning at Valderrama on his last start. A win is required for the Spaniard and Fleetwood and Rose need to finish sufficiently far down the final leaderboard for all of the stars to align and for Garcia to snatch the title. The full permutations are detailed here.
Over on the PGA Tour, Steve Bamford casts his eye over this week's action at the RSM Classic - you can read his preview here.
Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE. Designer: Greg Norman, 2009; Par: 72; Length: 7,675 yards; Fairways: Bermuda; Rough: Bermuda/Rye; Greens: TifEagle Bermuda; Stimp: 12'6".
Course Overview. As ever, the venue for the DP World Tour Championship is the Greg Norman-designed Earth Course. The track is a monster at 7,675 yards with 2 of the par 5s measuring over 620 yards, the tough par-4 9th which is 3 feet short of 500 yards, plus the 195 yard par 3 17th which plays to an island green. The fairways are quite wide and, with dry weather in the run-up to this week, the course will be playing hard and fast. Greens are large, undulating Bermudagrass which measure 12'6" on the stimp and, as always, aren't to every player's liking.
Tournament Stats. We've published some key player statistics for this week's DP World Tour Championship that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Top 20 Finishes.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2016: Matthew Fitzpatrick, 66/1; 2015: Rory McIlroy, 5/1; 2014: Henrik Stenson, 17/2; 2013: Henrik Stenson, 11/1; 2012: Rory McIlroy, 6/1; 2011: Alvaro Quiros, 40/1; 2010: Robert Karlsson, 50/1. For a summary of winners' odds on the European Tour for the past 5 years based on the 2016 schedule click here.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Dubai is here. Dry, warm and sunny conditions will greet the players this week in Dubai with temperatures reaching the mid-80s Fahrenheit each day and afternoon breezes picking up to around 15-20 km/h.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Analysing the final stats of recent winners here gives us a little more insight into the type of player suited here:
Up until Matt Fitzpatrick's win last year, you could have argued with some conviction that length off the tee was pretty much a pre-requisite here at the Earth Course. From Lee Westwood in 2009 through to Rory McIroy in 2015, each winner had ranked inside the top-8 for Driving Distance on the week and on 4 occasions the winner was in the top-2 for distance off the tee. Fitzpatrick isn't long by any stretch, however he's shown an ability to perform on longer tracks (a win at the Nordea Masters and 7th at Augusta spring to mind) and perhaps that's actually the key factor in not being intimidated by the length here. More average length drivers can perform well - Ian Poulter, for instance, has a decent record here, as has Franceso Molinari - however shorter players need to make up for that handicap with an excellent performance from tee-to-green.
Looking a little deeper at the past 5 winners here and we see that birdie-making and bogey avoidance is pretty important:
Scoring was a little tougher last year as well as in 2014 when Stenson retained his title, but generally the winner will have an excellent week on the par 4s whilst making birdie or better on around 60% of the par 5s during the course of the week. With a perfect forecast this week and relatively little wind to speak of, I'd expect the winning total to be around the 20-under mark and the winner to excel on the par-4s as well as the par-5s.
Incoming Form: In terms of incoming form, the winners here had all produced some decent results in the recent past before lifting the trophy. Fitzpatrick had finished 7th at Augusta before winning the Nordea Masters earlier in 2016, plus he'd produced a couple of top-10 finishes in his previous 8 starts. Rory had won the Dubai Desert Classic earlier in 2015 as well as the WGC Match Play and Wells Fargo Championship, plus had some decent incoming form. In fact all of the winners had some positive form either very recently and/or from the Middle East earlier that year to encourage punters:
Course Form (back to 2010): Apart from the early renewals, winners here generally had some decent course form prior to victory:
The 7 renewals haven't produced any massive shocks with Westwood (16/1), Karlsson (50/1), Quiros (40/1), McIlroy (6/1), Stenson (11/1 & 17/2), McIlroy again (5/1) and Fitzpatrick (66/1) all backable for various reasons. Fitzpatrick was probably the most difficult to find as each of the other winners here in the 8-year history of this event have an excellent record in the Middle East swing on the European Tour and each, except Westwood, had won either in Qatar, Dubai or both over the course of their respective careers. Fitzpatrick did however back up his success here with a top-5 finish at the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year and perhaps we'll see him add his name to the winners' list of more desert-based events as his career progresses.
The rough has been toughened a little over the years which swings the pendulum a little more towards total driving and quality ball-striking than putting in my opinion, although top-quality putters may well still find a way to get into contention this week. Those players who can find fairways (and the further down the better), find greens and produce an impressive enough performance on the Bermuda greens are most likely to succeed in my view and the cream is really quite likely to rise to the top over the course of the 4 days. A patient, measured approach is far preferred here than an erratic mix of birdies and bogeys and with so much on the line on Sunday afternoon this may well come down to who has the coolest head coming down the stretch.
Bookmaker Offers: Latest offers and extended each-way places are detailed below.
My selections are as follows:
Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood has had an excellent season regardless of what happens here this week - wins in Abu Dhabi and France in decent company have trebled his European Tour trophy haul and finishes of 2nd at the WGC Mexico Championship as well as 4th at the US Open have proven to himself as well as the golfing public that he can mix it with the best players in the world when his trademark ball-striking is at its very peak. Life's good for the 26 year-old who became a father for the first time recently, however he's seen what was at one point an almost unassailable Race to Dubai lead - he was quoted as short as 1/14 at one point by a few firms - eroded by recent victories from Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose and it's those two men who could provide the final blow here this week and shatter Tommy's dreams. A win here would guarantee Tommy the overall title, however it's fair to say that he's stuttered a little of late and admitted to getting a little hot under the collar last week which affected his long game. Not good news for Fleetwood in a week where a cool head is an absolute must.
Sergio Garcia has a mathematical chance of becoming European Number 1, however he'd need to win this week whilst Rose and Fleetwood finish far enough down the leaderboard for the numbers to add up. 6 attempts at the Earth Course from the Spaniard have produced 6 top-21 finishes, however none of those have resulted in so much as an each-way payout for punters and although there's a lot to like about his game after his Valderrama effort, whether this is the week for him remains to be seen. I would, however, still expect him to contend.
Of course that that leaves me with Justin Rose. Search for value in this 60-man field for as long as you like and you may still not have found a viable betting option by the time this year's European Tour finale starts in the early hours of Thursday morning. 7/1 is no bargain I grant you, however I can't see past the Englishman here who's won his last two events with a level of belief combined with a red-hot game that suggests to me that he's got both the DP World Tour Championship and Race to Dubai Titles well within his sights.
The 37 year-old arrived in Dubai on Sunday to start his preparation earlier than most of his peers who were battling it out in South Africa and to quickly re-acquaint himself on a track that he's twice finished runner-up. In 2012 a final round 62 wasn't quite enough to catch Rory McIlroy who had started the day 6 shots ahead of his Ryder Cup team-mate and he finished alongside Rory and Victor Dubuisson in 2014 with Henrik Stenson retaining his title by a couple of strokes. Crucially for Rose, both McIlroy and Stenson miss this week's event through injury and if there was ever a time to take advantage of that fact, this is the week.
After missing out on a second Major Championship title at Augusta earlier this year to go alongside his 2013 US Open triumph, it took some time for the Englishman to get back to his best, but boy has he found his game in recent weeks. 2nd at the BMW Championship followed two consecutive 10th place finishes in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and his 79.2% of greens in regulation at Conway Farms, which led the field, hinted at what was to come. Wins at the WGC HSBC Champions and a week later at the Turkish Airlines Open saw an incredible combination of controlled aggression - plus a decent number of putts made - to suggest to me that his game is absolutely ripe for the Earth Course this year.
We know from his history that when he finds top gear he can maintain it for a good few weeks and with confidence coursing through his veins right now and his game in outstanding shape, I'm happy to back Justin Rose here to take both the DP World Tour Championship and Race to Dubai titles in one fell swoop. RESULT: Tied 4th
With such a hefty punt on Justin Rose to win, the question is how to play the rest of the field. Let's assume I'm right about Rose, then the remainder of the field are simply playing for a place from a betting perspective so the prices along the lines of 12/1 for Garcia and debutant Rahm, 14/1 for Grace and 16/1 for Hatton and Fitzpatrick make far less appeal once the odds have been chopped into quarters (or fifths) for the place. Backing them in any 'without Rose' type market won't offer much more in the way of exciting odds, so instead I'm going to stick with my assertion that Rose is the man to beat and instead opt for a couple of bets in the Dual Forecast market.
The beauty of this bet is that it also offers a level of 'insurance' on my main punt if Rose happens to fall a place short and is beaten by one of the two men who I think will offer him the biggest challenge here. Sergio Garcia is clearly striking his irons very nicely at present, ranking 2nd for GIR at East Lake, 1st for GIR at the Italian Open and 9th when victorious at Valderrama on his last start. I noted earlier that whilst Sergio has a consistent record here at the Earth Course he's equally not produced any massive finishes, however with both Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson missing this week there's an opportunity for a personal best and another head-to-head with his good friend Justin Rose. RESULT: 4th-4th
Last week's effort from Branden Grace was also noteworthy given how well that he, like Garcia, is striking his irons and similarly his success follows a period of high GIR performance. 3rd for greens hit at the CJ Cup on the PGA Tour and 6th at the WGC HSBC Champions were strong indicators of impending success for the South African and he duly obliged last week at Sun City when converting his third strong chance presented to him at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. We know from his history that Grace can win back-to-back - he did it twice in his breakthrough season of 2012 - and provided he hasn't spent all of his energy in winning what he regards as his 5th Major, then another big week is possible here. RESULT: 4th-31st
Remember with the Dual Forecast that the result can be in either order for the bet to pay out, so if Rose/Garcia or Rose/Grace finish 1st and 2nd in either order then we're looking at a 50/1 winner assuming no ties.
If there is to be a longer-priced winner, and I use that term loosely given that this is a 60-man field and the player I'm putting up is only 40/1, then someone of the quality of Thomas Pieters is one of the likeliest candidates. Whilst very different players in terms of style, I'd class Pieters as a similar level to last year's winner Matt Fitzpatrick and I can see them both pushing on to win Major titles in their respective careers.
Already a 3-time European Tour winner at the age of 25, Pieters has some eye-catching form in better fields than this to his name including 4th at Augusta, 2nd at the Genesis Open on the PGA Tour, 5th at the WGC Mexico Championship and most recently 4th at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. At 35th in the OWGR he's clearly in the right place to be playing the biggest events and staking a claim for the 2018 Ryder Cup, however if he's going to achieve that feat once again then these are the types of high-yielding events that he needs to focus on over the next few months from a domestic perspective.
Thomas is one of those players who can get more than a little frustrated when things aren't going his way, particularly from off the tee, however a change of tack in Turkey on his last start saw him hit far more fairways and greens by playing a more strategic game from off the tee, rather than simply grabbing driver at every opportunity, and the resulting 11th place finish was a positive leap forward after some indifferent results since Akron to say the least. Henrik Stenson has twice mastered this layout with his trusty 3-wood and if Pieters can focus on finding fairways with whichever club is most appropriate then we could find the Belgian back in the mix here this week. 22nd and 40th on two starts here doesn't overly excite, however 2nd and 4th in Abu Dhabi in the past bodes well and I'm expect a big personal best here knowing that a top-6 finish from him covers our week betting-wise. RESULT: T58
Watch these tips on YouTube with Steve Bamford: Golf Betting System YouTube Channel