Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Dubai Desert Classic Tips 2023

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It was great to get off to a winning start last week in Abu Dhabi with 55/1 shot Victor Perez getting over the line, despite a little scare on the 72nd hole – winning is never easy for players and punters alike! Let’s see if we can follow that up with another winner as we make the short journey to Dubai this week.

The field if anything has strengthened ever so slightly with the Dubai Desert Classic, freshly sponsored by Hero and retaining its Rolex Series status for a second consecutive year. That means 8,000 DPWTR points up for grabs alongside the elevated $9m prize fund that we saw last week in Abu Dhabi.

Added to the field versus a week ago we have the likes of Abraham Ancer, Lucas Herbert and of course most notably Rory McIlroy who has inevitably been installed as the bookies’ favourite at a best-priced 7/2 at the time of writing.

Before we go into more detail and my final Dubai Desert Classic tips, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System as the golfing year kicks off. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, 6,000-strong private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

bet365 2023 Majors Competition Sponsored By bet365:

Following on from the success of the last 11 annual GBS Majors competitions, bet365 have kindly offered to sponsor the 2023 edition once again with a massive £250 CASH prize fund! Our 2023 winner will receive £150 (or currency equivalent) in cash with additional £75 and £25 prizes for 2nd and 3rd place finishers.

Basically we want you to pick a single player for each of the 4 Majors any time before the start of the 2023 Masters and get those 4 names entered into the competition by one of the methods detailed on our rules page here. Best of luck all!

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bet365 have recently launched their innovative ‘Each Way Extra’ promotion on golf, following on from its success on horse racing over the past few years.

  • bet365 Golf Each Way Extra – Up to 12 places for Each Way Golf bets on selected tournaments. Each Way Extra gives you the option to increase or decrease the number of places when you are betting pre-event on the To Win Outright market on selected Golf events – add places on to your Each Way Golf bets for extra security at lower odds, or increase the price by removing places. Bet restrictions apply. For further details of how Each Way Extra works on golf click here.

The number of Each Way Extra places offered on an event can be viewed on the Each Way Extra coupon or on the bet slip as per the example below:

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Odds above used for illustrative purposes and were correct at 16:00GMT 23.1.23, but are naturally subject to fluctuation.

To access the different options and odds, simply select the ‘Each Way Extra’ market from the selected golf coupon to see the additional place terms that are available on your chosen event before the first group tees off. Once you’ve selected a price and the corresponding number of places from the Each Way Extra coupon, it will then appear on your bet slip.

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Emirates GC. Designer: Litten, 1998; Course Type: Desert; Par: 72; Length: 7,428 yards; Water Hazards: 10; Fairways: Bermuda/Rye; Rough: Bermuda/Rye; Greens: Bermuda (TifEagle) 12’6″ on the stimp.

Course Overview. The Majlis Course is our venue once again for this year’s Dubai Desert Classic. As you’d expect with a desert course, this is a fairly exposed layout – however in contrast to last week at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, the track here at the Emirates Golf Club is a little shorter with a number of dog-leg holes which, when combined with wind which is quite often a factor, creates a little bit more of a strategic test.

History has shown that hitting greens is the key statistic at the 7,428 yard par-72 layout – once on board, the putting surfaces are pretty flat and reasonably speedy Bermuda measuring 12-13 on the stimpmeter, and they can appeal to the less adept putters on Tour. The greens themselves were rebuilt ahead of last year’s event, adding on average 1/3 to the size of each putting surface. As ever, the newly laid turf was firmer than usual and should have settled down a little 12 months on.

The back nine, whilst longer than the front nine, plays far easier with three mid-length par-5s in play, the short par-4 17th and the shortest of the par-3s at the 11th. The 1st, 3rd and 16th holes were extended prior to the 2021 event, adding 67 yards to the total length of the course.

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Dubai Desert Classic that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Current/Event Form | SG Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Winners & Prices. 2022: Viktor Hovland, 10/1; 2021: Paul Casey, 25/1; 2020: Lucas Herbert, 200/1; 2019: Bryson DeChambeau, 10/1; 2018: Hao-tong Li, 110/1; 2017: Sergio Garcia, 20/1; 2016: Danny Willett, 40/1; 2015: Rory McIlroy 7/2; 2014: Stephen Gallacher, 45/1; 2013: Stephen Gallacher, 70/1; 2012: Rafael Cabrera-Bello, 125/1; 2011: Alvaro Quiros, 16/1; 2010: Miguel Angel Jimenez, 66/1.

For a summary of winners’ odds on the European Tour since 2010 click here.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Dubai is here.

Rain is possible on Thursday, after which the tournament should enjoy mild (low-70s) and dry conditions throughout the remaining 3 days. The wind looks generally light to moderate at around 10-15mph.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors.

Analysing the final stats of the past 12 winners gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2022: Viktor Hovland (-12). 305 yards (13th), 62.5% fairways (3rd), 69.4% greens in regulation (10th), 63.6% scrambling (34th), 1.71 putts per GIR (18th).
  • 2021: Paul Casey (-17). 301 yards (23rd), 53.6% fairways (17th), 75.0% greens in regulation (4th), 66.7% scrambling (16th), 1.73 putts per GIR (22nd).
  • 2020: Lucas Herbert (-9). 316 yards (9th), 42.9% fairways (37th), 66.7% greens in regulation (5th), 70.8% scrambling (4th), 1.73 putts per GIR (21st).
  • 2019: Bryson DeChambeau (-24). 298 yards (26th), 57.1% fairways (22nd), 80.6% greens in regulation (3rd), 57.1% scrambling (58th), 1.57 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2018: Hao-Tong Li (-23). 304 yards (18th), 50% fairways (45th), 65.3% greens in regulation (47th), 76% scrambling (13th), 1.49 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2017: Sergio Garcia (-19). 305 yards (4th), 69.6% fairways (4th), 81.9% greens in regulation (1st), 61.5% scrambling (15th), 1.70 putts per GIR (17th).
  • 2016: Danny Willett (-19). 297 yards (10th), 55.4% fairways (38th), 77.8% greens in regulation (19th), 56.3% scrambling (35th), 1.54 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2015: Rory McIlroy (-22). 318 yards (1st), 44.6% fairways (67th), 83.3% greens in regulation (5th), 83.63% scrambling (3rd), 1.68 putts per GIR (14th).
  • 2014: Stephen Gallacher (-16). 304 yards (5th), 50% fairways (55th), 76.4% greens in regulation (12th), 41.2% scrambling (65th), 1.66 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2013: Stephen Gallacher (-22). 298 yards (5th), 58.9% fairways (34th), 77.8% greens in regulation (12th), 75% scrambling (18th), 1.61 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2012: Rafa Cabrera-Bello (-18). 289 yards (17th), 64.3% fairways (32nd), 84.7% greens in regulation (1st), 72.7% scrambling (5th), 1.74 putts per GIR (25th).
  • 2011: Alvaro Quiros (-11). 311 yards (1st), 48.2% fairways (49th), 72.2% greens in regulation (15th), 75% scrambling (2nd), 1.64 putts per GIR (4th).

One element that stands out from a number of those players above is that many of them had previously produced a strong GIR performance here at the Emirates before winning. Sadly no performance stats were recorded for Bryson DeChambeau’s debut effort in 2016 where he finished 18th, however HaoTong Li’s win in 2018 and Viktor Hovland’s success last year aside, the case is pretty compelling.

Lucas Herbert is a case in point, having hit 75% GIR on his debut here in 2019, ranking 13th in the field on that count, before ranking 5th for the same metric on his way to victory in 2020. Similarly, 2021 winner Paul Casey had previous GIR rankings of 2nd, 4th, 5th and 9th and no worse than 24th in the field from 7 previous starts.

Although his attendance in this event has been patchy, Garcia had previously ranked 1st for GIR here in 2009; Willett had recorded 80.6% GIR on each of his previous 2 attempts before winning in 2016; McIlroy ranked 2nd, 5th ,6th and 4th for GIR here between 2009 and 2012; Gallacher ranked 1st for GIR the year before winning, plus had achieved GIR ranks of 9/6/8 before that; likewise both Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Miguel Angel Jimenez had ranked 1st for GIR on this layout prior to winning.

Hao-Tong Li’s effort goes against that trend as he’d only played here once before, recording a GIR ranking of 56th in the field, however we wasn’t a great deal better than that when victorious 5 years ago as it was his putter which did the damage. Likewise Viktor Hovland’s 57% GIR was only good enough for 42nd in the field, however that’s a sample of 1 so perhaps not entirely representative. As ever, there’s always scope for an exception to the rule in this game.

Strokes Gained: From a Strokes Gained perspective, we have 4 years’ worth of results from the Emirates:

  • 2022: Viktor Hovland: T: 2nd; A: 3rd; T2G: 3rd; ATG: 65th; P: 14th
  • 2021: Paul Casey. T: 6th; A: 2nd; T2G: 1st; ATG: 7th; P: 41st
  • 2020: Lucas Herbert. T: 9th; A: 54th; T2G: 7th; ATG: 3rd; P: 14th
  • 2019: Bryson DeChambeau. T: 4th; A: 12th; T2G: 3rd; ATG: 32nd; P: 5th

Key: T: SG Off the Tee; A; SG Approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG Putting.

Some consistency from all 4 winners from the Strokes Gained era with both Off the Tee and Tee to Green field rankings right up there with the best on the week.

Looking at Hovland’s 4th place effort the week before winning here 12 months ago, his long game looked in great shape having ranked 8th for SG Off the Tee and 4th for SG Tee to Green,

Casey had also given some clues, having ranked 2nd for SG Tee to Green on the PGA Tour the previous week; Herbert was tougher to spot with some indifferent incoming form, although his SG Off the Tee performances outshone his actual finishing positions, whereas Bryson DeChambeau had finished 2nd for both SG Off the Tee and SG Tee to Green on his previous start at the Sony Open.

For a full Strokes Gained summary for the field over the same 3 years click here.

Incoming Form: Each of the last 12 winners had recorded at least one top-10 finish in their previous 9 performances, so some recent form seems a fair pointer.

Last year’s winner Viktor Hovland had already played at the Sentry Tournament of Champions (30th) and Abu Dhabi the week before (4th), so any rust had well and truly been shaken off. Prior to that he’d won at Mayakoba as well as the Hero World Challenge and was clearly in great form:

  • 2022: Viktor Hovland: 14/36/43/17/4/49/44/18/1/1/30/4
  • 2021: Paul Casey: MC/67/2/31/49/16/17/MC/69/35/38/8
  • 2020: Lucas Herbert: 55/62/MC/8/22/MC/MC/34/14/MC/64/67
  • 2019: Bryson DeChambeau: 51/13/30/MC/1/1/19/19/1/12/7/10
  • 2018: Hao-Tong Li: 3/MC/MC/25/62/48/50/66/4/13/19/MC
  • 2017: Sergio Garcia: 1/5/5/5/MC/8/24/47/17/9/19/11
  • 2016: Danny Willett: 1/17/54/3/52/46/11/3/28/4/4/54
  • 2015: Rory McIlroy: 14/1/1/1/22/5/8/2/2/2/15/2
  • 2014: Stephen Gallacher: MC/9/MC/3/53/63/25/34/38/29/8/28
  • 2013: Stephen Gallacher: 24/40/6/34/MC/5/6/MC/4/16/MC/59
  • 2012: Rafa Cabrera-Bello: 33/34/MC/30/2/41/19/72/15/26/48/35
  • 2011: Alvaro Quiros: 39/MC/42/34/5/57/55/53/3/23/8/2

Event Form. Some semblance of course form looks like a positive factor here at the Emirates, with last year’s winner with Viktor Hovland joining a long list of winners here who’d previously recorded a top-25 finish around these parts. Going back to 2005, the only exceptions to the rule are Rory McIlroy in 2009 and Haotong Li in 2018:

  • 2022: Viktor Hovland: 23
  • 2021: Paul Casey: 12/16/20/4/11/37/9
  • 2020: Lucas Herbert: 7
  • 2019: Bryson DeChambeau: 18
  • 2018: Hao-Tong Li: 39
  • 2017: Sergio Garcia: 31/MC/19/11/20/17/MC
  • 2016: Danny Willett: MC/48/33/MC/13/13
  • 2015: Rory McIlroy: MC/52/MC/1/6/10/5/9
  • 2014: Stephen Gallacher: 4/MC/38/34/51/22/44/44/MC/31/10/2/1
  • 2013: Stephen Gallacher: 4/MC/38/34/51/22/44/44/MC/31/10/2
  • 2012: Rafa Cabrera-Bello: MC/20
  • 2011: Alvaro Quiros: 59/MC/13/6

General experience of the Emirates looks positive too: there are no debutant winners in that list above and you need to go all the way back to Richard Green in 1997 before you’ll find a first-timer walking away with the trophy here. The occasional debutant has placed here in recent years – Adrian Meronk finishing in a tie for 4th last year for example – however they are the exception rather than the rule.

When the breeze picks up around these parts it can accentuate the requirement for shot-shaping and almost links-like qualities to a player’s game, an assertion that’s backed up when you look at the list of winners which includes a number of Open Champions including Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson. Even Hao-Tong Li has some Open Championship form having finished 3rd there in 2017 courtesy of a sparkling final round. This event also appears to be quite specialised with Els, McIlroy, Woods and Stephen Gallacher all winning this twice.

Conditions here are likely to shape the type of winner we see from year to year. When there’s any kind of breeze around these parts, the emphasis shifts towards ball-striking first and foremost, however in more placid years where scoring has been lower, those with a hot putter have also contended.

A bit of breeze last year, coupled with firm greens following the renovation work to the putting surfaces, contributed to a 12-under winning total as scoring proved to be a little tougher than the previous year. 12 months on and the greens should have settled a little by now, so with a fairly placid forecast and the potential for rain to soften the course a little, I’d expect scoring to be a little deeper this time around.

My final Dubai Desert Classic tips are as follows:

 

Francesco Molinari 2pts EW 30/1 (8EW, 1/5*) with bet365

Heading into this event 12 months ago, Rory McIlroy rated as a best-priced 8/1 shot in the early Monday market and that price was soon hoovered up as punters – me included – expected him to build on his opening effort of 12th the week before in Abu Dhabi and complete a personal hat-trick of Emirates titles.

It took until the 72nd hole for his challenge to end, finding water with his approach shot to the par-5 18th as he searched for the birdie which would have given him the title. As it was, a bogey left him a shot shy of the play-off and much disappointment for his supporters.

A year on, the world number 1 rates as 7/2 shot at best at the time of writing. That’s testament of course to how he’s been playing of late – finishes of 8/1/2/4/4/1/4 since he last missed a cut back in August – and the fact that there’s no Collin Morikawa or Viktor Hovland in the field, with the bookies not seeing the likes of Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry or Tommy Fleetwood presenting the same level of threat.

Of course, if we’re going to oppose Rory there needs to be a little substance behind it other than just a dog-awful price, especially given his love for this course. Fact is though, McIlroy has never won in January and he’s never won his first event of the year, with career first appearances reading as: MC/MC/52/11/5/3/2/2/MC/2/2/3/2/3/4/3/3/12. Hardly disastrous, however at a win-only price I’d want to see a little more evidence that he can hit the ground not just running but sprinting. He’s undoubtedly the best player in the field and of course he could win, however he’s not for me this week.

So with McIlroy left alone, that leaves us with the dilemma of where to pitch this week’s team. Tyrrell Hatton is tempting again at a similar price to last week and for similar reasons as to why he was carrying my money in Abu Dhabi. An impressive final 9 holes – including an ace and 3 closing birdies – saw a smile emerge on the Englishman’s face, and he’s undoubtedly a threat on a course where he’s finished inside the top 4 on 3 occasions. Shane Lowry slumped to a final round 76 from a tie for the lead heading into Sunday, the second successive year that he’s relinquished an outstanding position after 54-holes at Yas Links, and that has to hurt, whereas Tommy Fleetwood trod water all week for a tie for 38th. Any or all of that trio could contend, however I’ll start my team instead with a massively motivated Francesco Molinari.

There’s nothing like a Ryder Cup to focus minds and the Italian has spoken at length about his desire to be part of the 2023 edition as it heads to his homeland for the first time, describing it as ‘the summit of his career’ if we were to make it onto Luke Donald’s team.

With 6 captain’s picks, Luke might find a place for 3-time Ryder Cup winner anyway, however that shouldn’t and won’t stop Molinari from doing his damnedest to qualify for the team by rights over the next 9 months, or to at least make his pick somewhat of a foregone conclusion. To do that he’ll need some silverware, and that needs to come soon.

With no victory globally since the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational, a trophy is long overdue for a player of Francesco’s ability and there were signs towards the back end of 2022 that an upturn in form was imminent as he started to regain accuracy with driver. 15th at The Open was followed by 9th at Wentworth, and although he didn’t push on from there, he did sit in a handy position at Mayakoba in November after both 18- and 36-holes to offer a little encouragement.

Last week’s effort in Abu Dhabi is the obvious pointer though. In the joint- or co-lead after 36 and 54 holes, perhaps his eventual tie for 5th can be put down to a lack of serious contention of late and he should come on for that effort. 19th for SG Off the Tee, 13th for SG Tee to Green, 24th for Driving accuracy and 16th for GIR with 83.3% of greens hit were all strong numbers and his all-round game seemed in good enough shape to suggest he’s got a good season ahead of him. He described in interview how he’s been steadily improving over the past few months and how a few minor tweaks are starting to come to fruition; if these are still early days in that journey then there could be some real fireworks to come this year. Or perhaps he’s pretty much ready now.

2014 was the last time that Molinari played this event, finishing a personal best of 13th that year, however the updates to the greens last year had even the most regular attendees here stating that it was like putting on an entirely new course given the extent of the changes, and the new fast, firm putting surfaces play to Fran’s strengths as he’s always liked greens with a bit of speed in them. RESULT: MC

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Adrian Meronk 2pts EW 30/1 (8EW, 1/5*) with bet365

The rise of Adrian Meronk over the past year has been quite phenomenal. Having languished in the 150-200 range in the World Rankings since capturing his maiden Challenge Tour title at the 2019 Open de Portugal, the lanky Pole undoubtedly stepped up a gear in 2022, so much so that he sneaked inside the OWGR top 50 at the end of the year to earn himself a coveted Masters invite.

In truth there were a few hints that he could take a significant step forward the year before when recording a pair of 3rd place finishes in Tenerife and at The Belfry, before going closer still at the Italian Open later that year, finishing runner up to Nicolai Hojgaard courtesy of a flying final round of 66.

Last year though was undoubtedly a turning point. 4th here at the Emirates built on the promise he’d shown at the nearby Dubai Championship (8th) a couple of months before. 6th at Ras Al Khaimah and 3rd in Qatar followed in the Middle East before he recorded further top-6 finishes at the Catalunya Championship, Soudal Open and Dutch Open. It was no surprise when he finally broke through at the Irish Open, holding off Ryan Fox by 3 strokes on the Sunday to become the first Pole to win on the DP World/European Tour in its history.

7th at the DP World Tour Championship is further impressive form in the region – in a classier field than this, it has to be said – and the 29 year-old capped an outstanding year by winning the Australian Open in December by 5 strokes over a faltering Adam Scott. Impressive stuff and for both his wins he produced final rounds of 66 to get the job done.

Strokes Gained Off the Tee and Tee to Green is Adrian’s game, which from what know about the Emirates is a formidable weapon. 2nd for the former stat for the full 2022 season and 31st for the latter are an excellent indication of his fit for this course, and more of the same was evident last week as he ranked 7th for SG Off the Tee on his way to a 10th place finish. RESULT: MC

*bet365 Golf Each Way Extra – Up to 12 places for Each Way Golf bets on selected tournaments. Each Way Extra gives you the option to increase or decrease the number of places when you are betting pre-event on the To Win Outright market on selected Golf events – add places on to your Each Way Golf bets for extra security at lower odds, or increase the price by removing places. Bet restrictions apply. For further details of how Each Way Extra works on golf click here.

✅ Bet £10 get £30 in free bets for new customers
✅ Bonus code SPORT30 can be used, but does not change the offer amount in any way
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✅ ‘Each Way Extra’ promotion where you can choose between 3, 8, 10 or 12 places each way

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Thorbjorn Olesen 1pt EW 80/1 (6EW, 1/5) with William Hill

A little further down the field, I’m taking a chance on desert-loving Thorbjorn Olesen.

There was a time, not so long ago, that the Dane was expected to push on and challenge the golfing elite. Top-10 finishes at The Masters and The Open in the early part of his career, 5 wins on the European Tour as it was at the time – included in which was a Rolex Series win at the 2018 Italian Open – and further high-class wins at the Dunhill Links and Turkish Airlines Open marked the 33 year-old down as a player of significant potential.

A 5&4 victory over Jordan Spieth in the Sunday Singles was the highlight of his Ryder Cup debut in 2018 and all looked rosy until his well-documented airline issues the following year that resulted in his temporary suspension from the Tour. With all that water well and truly under the bridge, it was no massive surprise to see Olesen add a sixth title to his collection at the Belfry last May, putting his way to victory in the closing stages having seemingly thrown away his chance by sitting at 4-over for the day with 2 holes to go. Eagle-birdie to finish got him over the line by a stroke.

It’s been a little up and down since then with some of his approach play leaving a little to be desired, however last week’s reappearance contained enough encouragement for me to take a chance on him here. 20th overall at Yas Links contained stats including 3rd for Driving Accuracy, 12th for GIR (84.7%), 6th for Total Driving, 8th for SG Off the Tee and 17th for SG Tee to Green, and he seemed upbeat on Social Media about it all afterwards.

4 top-8 finishes from 9 starts here at the Emirates tells us all we need to know about his liking for the course, and further positive form in Abu Dhabi (8th in 2012; 2nd in 2013) completes the argument for supporting him in my view. RESULT: T16

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Edoardo Molinari 1pt EW 150/1 (5EW, 1/4) with Betfred

I’ll also take a chance on Edoardo Molinari who’s been striking the ball beautifully for some time now and could contend here if he can find that elusive spark with the flat stick.

The prospect of a Ryder Cup in Italy seemed to spark some life into Dodo’s younger brother last week in Abu Dhabi with Francesco contending pretty much throughout the event, eventually finishing in a tie for 5th, and although serving as one of Luke Donald’s Vice-Captain’s is likely as close as Edoardo will get to the team this time, the romance of the whole thing might just enthuse him in these coming months nevertheless.

17th was Edoardo’s final position on the leaderboard last week, having sat 5th after the first day, and 87.5% GIR – 3rd in the field – was the standout statistic from his effort. That’s not a bad starting point when heading to the shorter, more suitable Emirates Golf Club for a player of his ilk.

4th at the Spanish Open, 9th to halfway at the Nedbank, and 9th overall at the SA Open were positive autumn outings for the 41 year-old as he produced a series of eye-catching statistics in the second half of 2022, including 1st for Driving Accuracy at Wentworth as well as both of those events in Spain and South Africa, plus 1st and 2nd for GIR on those latter 2 events.

The issue for a while now has been the putter, which always seems a little strange as he was historically better than his more decorated brother in that respect. A return to the short putter towards the end of the year seems to have been positive and he returned to action last week brandishing the same weapon, so there’s hope that he can continue to build confidence with the flat stick and contend here again, having finished 4th on debut back in 2010 and 9th 4 years later. RESULT: MC

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Ashun Wu 1pt EW 250/1 (5EW, 1/4) with 10bet

Finally, if last year’s winner Viktor Hovland’s stats and comments are anything to go by, accuracy off the tee here could be a little more important following the 2021 renovations than previously, more to give players a chance of holding greens and being able to attack pins rather than avoiding masses of danger. Perhaps then siding with the player who hit more fairways than anybody last week – Ashun Wu – could be the smart play.

Certainly not one of the longer hitters on the circuit, the Chinese star tends to perform best on tracks where plotting your way around a course outweighs brute force, and to that end the Emirates suits better than many other tracks on the schedule. 4 wins on the DP World/European Tour over the years have come on broadly comparable tracks in terms of length to this week’s task, the most recent of which was the Magical Kenya Open last March. 16-under was the winning total that week, which doesn’t feel out of kilter with the updated Emirates after a year’s worth of settling in for the new greens, and 7,184 yards for a par of 71 puts it firmly in the same bracket as this week’s task.

The 37 year-old’s form dipped a little following that 4-stroke success 10 months ago, however he started to find some form with the driver towards the end of the year and that translated to some more positive results including 16th in Mallorca, 13th at the Spanish Open and 9th at the South African Open.

20th last week on his reappearance was even more encouraging though on a track a little on the long side for him, especially seeing as he supported his field-leading accuracy stats with 81.9% of greens hit in regulation. Finishes of 6th and 9th here at the Emirates from his last 3 starts completes the argument and at the price on offer he’s an attractive each-way proposition. RESULT: T20

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:10GMT 23.1.23 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.