Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Ras Al Khaimah Championship Tips 2023

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Despite flirting with the top end of the leaderboard at times, neither Thorbjorn Olesen nor Ashun Wu could muster the final round required to elevate them into the each-way places at the Emirates on Monday, as Rory McIlroy finally overcame Patrick Reed with a pair of closing birdies to win his third Dubai Desert Classic.

We move on and after 2 weeks of elevated prize funds and high-quality fields in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it’s back to Earth with a bump this week as the DP World Tour complete its early-season Middle East swing with a return to Ras Al Khaimah which debuted on the Tour this time last year.

With the big names of the past fortnight mostly gone now that we’re back to normal, that’s left us with a fairly open market this week headed by Abu Dhabi champion Victor Perez at 18/1. Just below Perez, Adrian Meronk and Rasmus Hojgaard are followed by last year’s course winners Ryan Fox and Nicolai Hojgaard at around the 20-25/1 mark respectively, before the field starts to thin out a little.

Before we go into more detail and my final Ras al Khaimah Championship 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.

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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.

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Course Overview. Al Hamra Golf Club is this week’s venue and the Peter Harradine design stretches to 7,400 yards for its par of 72. Although new to the DP World Tour this time last year, Al Hamra hosted 3 events on the Challenge Tour between 2016-18 which form part of this week’s event stats and combined stats.

A regular 36/36 setup, the back 9 is longer than the front 9 and that makes the back 9 a tougher prospect with many of the best scoring opportunities coming in the first 8 holes. The Par-5s are all long without being excessively so at 576-607 yards; 3 sub-400 yard Par 4s also add to the scoring potential of a course that’s designed for the tourist trade primarily and allows for lots of birdies and eagles.

Set just off the coast of Ras al Khaimah, there’s definitely a coastal vibe about the track and the exposed fairways and desert surroundings are complimented by water hazards in the shape of lagoons on a number of holes for the errant. Paspalum grass has once again been used for this course, similar to what we saw in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago.

ras al khaimah championship tips

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

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

Course Winners:

  • (DP World Tour). 2022, Ryan Fox (-22), 60/1; Nicolai Hojgaard (-24), 35/1.
  • (Challenge Tour). 2018, Adri Arnaus (-17); 2017, Jens Dantorp (-15); 2016, Jordan Smith (-20).

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Ras al Khaimah is here.

The tournament should enjoy mild (mid-70s) and dry conditions throughout the 4 days. The breeze picks up a little in the afternoons although nothing excessive is expected at around 10mph, so scoring should be low.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Although there are no stats available for the Challenge Tour events held here at Al Hamra, we do at least have the Ras al Khaimah Championship and Ras al Khaimah Classic held here last to study.

From as traditional stats perspective, the two winners finished as follows:

  • (Classic) Ryan Fox. 324 yards (9th), 28.6% fairways (60th), 72.2% greens in regulation (6th), 60% scrambling (70th), 1.55 putts per GIR (4th).
  • (Championship) Nicolai Hojgaard. 332 yards (3rd), 23.2% fairways (72nd), 73.6% greens in regulation (7th), 68.4% scrambling (42nd), 1.63 putts per GIR (18th).

Length off the tee outweighed accuracy last year with both winners seemingly bombing it where they liked and still putting themselves in position to hit greens and make birdies. Scrambling stats were generally high for the entire field, so bomb, gouge and putt would seem to be a viable route to success.

Strokes Gained: From a Strokes Gained perspective, the 2 winners here last year compiled their scores in a very similar fashion:

  • (Classic) Ryan Fox. T: 26th; A: 2nd; T2G: 2nd; ATG: 22nd; P: 7th
  • (Championship) Nicolai Hojgaard. T: 1st; A: 2nd; T2G: 1st; ATG: 38th; P: 43rd

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

Both Fox and Hojgaard excelled from a SG Approach and SG Tee to Green perspective, with the Kiwi putting better than the Dane although he wasn’t so strong from off the tee.

A little further down the 2 leaderboards, SG Tee to Green is the most consistent statistic with Ross Fisher, who finished second to Ryan Fox, topping that stat in the Classic and strong ball-striker Jordan Smith finishing as Nicolai Hojgaard’s closest challenger the week before.

Scoring Breakdown: Focussing on the same two players, who were 5 and 4 shots ahead of the rest of the pack respectively, we have the following breakdown in terms of their scoring:

  • (Classic) Ryan Fox. Par-3: -1; Par-4: -14; Par-5: -7; 0 Eagles, 30 Birdies. 8 Bogeys/Worse.
  • (Championship) Nicolai Hojgaard. Par-3: +1; Par-4: -10; Par-5: -15; 3 Eagles, 25 Birdies. 6 Bogeys/Worse.

A knee-jerk reaction looking at Nicolai Hojgaard’s 15-under total on the par-5s would be to assume that scoring on the long holes is the most critical factor, however he was an outlier in that respect with only 12 players hitting double-digits under par for the 5s. Haotong Li, Adrian Otaegui and Matthieu Pavon were each just 6-under for the long holes for their 3rd place finishes, so although you could argue that it was a decisive factor in actually winning the title, getting into contention wasn’t predicated on Par-5 scoring alone.

Ryan Fox’s win a week later backs this up, as the Kiwi was 8 shots worse on the long holes but excelled on the Par 4s, comfortably leading scoring on that statistic on the week, and perhaps on balance that’s the most likely path to success.

Incoming Form. The incoming form of the 3 winners here at Al Hamra from the Challenge Tour days, plus last year’s two winners at the DP World Tour double-header, suggests that some good recent form wouldn’t go amiss, as all five had recorded a top-8 finish in one of their last 5 starts:

  • Ryan Fox: 13/29/MC/63/15/54/24/4/MC/61/26/MC
  • Nicolai Hojgaard: MC/21/17/1/20/14/MC/MC/2/4/MC/MC
  • Adri Arnaus: 18/16/29/MC/13/11/2/30/9/48/4/18
  • Jens Dantorp: 55/MC/34/62/49/22/48/5/15/8/MC/14
  • Jordan Smith: 20/15/MC/DQ/21/9/6/4/15/2/MC/MC

Interestingly both of last year’s winners here had missed their previous cut: Hojgaard had opened with a 77 the week before at The Emirates, meaning that an improved round of 72 on the Friday wasn’t enough to see him through to the weekend; Fox on the other hand shot 71/71 here at Al Hamra before finding his form on the same stretch of land a week later.

Last year taught us that this resort course is very scoreable when conditions are tranquil, and the risk-reward nature of many of the key scoring holes means that fortune may well favour the brave. With little wind anticipated, I’m expecting another low-scoring affair this week where excellence in terms of SG Tee to Green, coupled with a compliant putter, should see the winner getting into the 20-under par region once again.

My final Ras Al Khaimah Championship tips are as follows:

Ryan Fox 3pts EW 20/1 (8EW, 1/5*) with bet365

Nicolai Hojgaard might be the defending champion on paper this week, however Ryan Fox is the most recent winner here at Al Hamra – having won the Ras al Khaimah Classic a week after the young Dane’s success last year – and personally I’d make him favourite for this event, rather than 3rd or 4th favourite where he sits with most bookies.

Having missed the cut in this corresponding event a year ago as struggled with a back niggle, he quickly bounced back on his second look at this layout the following week after some physio work, opening with a 63 and leading from start to finish whilst making a massive 30 birdies into the bargain. 12 months on and as the highest-ranked player in this field at 30th in the OWGR, I can see him repeating the feat here against a field much-reduced in quality versus the past fortnight.

65th in Abu Dhabi, having sat inside the top-10 at the halfway point, is better than the eventual result suggests after nearly 2 months away from competitive golf and he improved on that in Dubai, finishing 20th having entered the final day in a handy 11th spot. This week’s test is much more amenable to the long-hitting Kiwi, with its attackable Par 4s and Par 5s, and one of his customary quick starts could be the springboard to another dominant display here in Ras al Khaimah.

Fox has talked about how much depends on his putting performance when it comes to eventual results and it’s no surprise that most of his contending – and winning – performances last year combined with a strong week with the flat stick. Last week in Dubai wasn’t great in that respect on the relatively new Bermuda greens, however a return to Paspalum surfaces could be just the ticket for the 36 year-old. He was far more positive on those sort of greens in Abu Dhabi the week before, and he ranked 7th for SG Putting here on his way to victory last year, gaining nearly 5 strokes with the flat stick. RESULT: T11

*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
✅ For further details read our bet365 new customer offer page
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour
✅ ‘Each Way Extra’ promotion where you can choose between 3, 8, 10 or 12 places each way

bet365 New Customer Offer: New Customers only. Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5 and £10 to your account and bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply. Registration required. The bonus code SPORT30 can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way. #Ad

Sami Valimaki 1.5pts EW 55/1 (8EW, 1/5*) with bet365

Another player with winning form on Paspalum greens who caught the eye a fortnight ago in Abu Dhabi is Sami Valimaki.

Oman was the scene of that victory, pipping our man Brandon Stone in a play-off in 2020, and geographically we’re not a million miles away this week in Ras Al Khaimah which sits a couple of hundred miles or so up the Gulf of Oman coastline. With its coastal setting and similar length – as well as sharing the same type of greens – that result should not be ignored.

6th at the Celtic Classic, 2nd at the Wales Open, 10th at Valderrama, 6th at the Cyprus Open and 5th at the DP World Tour Championship later that same year had many an observer of the DP World excited to see what the future would bring from this bright young talent, however his form dropped right off as he – by his own estimation – lost the enjoyment in his game.

Nearly 3 years on from that breakthrough victory and at the ripe old age of 24, it’s great to see that the Finn is back on the right track and that might translate to a second trophy sooner rather than later. 4th at last year’s BMW International Open was Sami’s first top-10 finish since that aforementioned effort at the Earth Course in 2020, and he showed further promise in South African in November by finishing runner-up to Dan Bradbury.

11th in Mauritius – another course that shares topography and agronomy with this week’s task – and 10th in Abu Dhabi at Rolex Series level, where he closed with the best round of the week, a 62, cannot be ignored, even if he did miss the cut last week in Dubai. An opening round of 76 put paid to his chances, however a 2nd round bogey-free 68 should restore some confidence, and I can see him going very well this week in far lesser company. 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
✅ For further details read our bet365 new customer offer page
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour
✅ ‘Each Way Extra’ promotion where you can choose between 3, 8, 10 or 12 places each way

bet365 New Customer Offer: New Customers only. Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5 and £10 to your account and bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply. Registration required. The bonus code SPORT30 can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way. #Ad

Grant Forrest 1pt EW 90/1 (8EW, 1/5*) with bet365

Like Valimaki, Grant Forrest also caught the eye in Abu Dhabi a week or so ago and deserves some support here in lower-grade company.

Progressive rounds of 71, 68 and 65 put the Scot in 4th place heading into the final round, and although a closing 72 wasn’t disastrous it certainly wasn’t enough to trouble the leaders coming down the stretch. Perhaps a bit of contention rust is to blame – you have to go all the way back to July at the Cazoo Classic to find him in a similar position – however it should do him some good to have been in the thick of things with 18 holes to go once again.

For low-scoring coastal form we need look no further than his breakthrough win at the 2021 Hero Open where a 24-under total was good enough to hold off James Morrison by a stroke, and a similar effort may well be required this week with a forecast suggesting that birdies and eagles will be the order of the day.

Since then, the 29 year-old’s best form has also tended to come in coastal areas which adds further encouragement for this week. 3rd at the aforementioned Cazoo Classic was played at Hillside, and he also finished 10th at the Alfred Dunhill Links in October to further bolster his pedigree when he can smell the sea air.

23rd for Driving Distance for the full 2022 season is ideal for this and his tendency to hit a far higher proportion of greens than fairways puts him in the same bracket as last year’s two winners here in my view. A positive performance on the Paspalum greens of Abu Dhabi seals the deal for me, and he’s the sort of player who can run into an each-way place or better at a tasty price. RESULT: T56

*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
✅ For further details read our bet365 new customer offer page
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour
✅ ‘Each Way Extra’ promotion where you can choose between 3, 8, 10 or 12 places each way

bet365 New Customer Offer: New Customers only. Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5 and £10 to your account and bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply. Registration required. The bonus code SPORT30 can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way. #Ad

Shaun Norris 1pt EW 125/1 (7Ew, 1/5) with Coral

Finally, I’ll take a chance on Shaun Norris bouncing back quickly from a closing round of 77 which took him from 4th place heading into Monday’s final round at The Emirates all the way down to a tie for 65th, meaning he’s available at a backable price in this far weaker field.

6 wins on the Japan Tour over the years, 2 wins on the Asian Tour and 2 more on the regular Sunshine Tour, the South African has often been one of those players who pops up on the entry list for Majors and WGCs courtesy of his exploits on those Tours without us knowing too much about him.

A maiden DP World Tour win at last year’s Steyn City Championship changed that to a degree before he was whisked off to LIV to play for the big bucks. To be brutally honest, he’s hardly set the world alight on that circuit, however like we saw with a number of his colleagues in Dubai, the lure of OWGR points from the DP World Tour might just focus his mind here this week.

We’ve seen the 40 year-old bounce back from tough rounds to win his next event in the past: he won the Golf Partner Pro-Am on the Japan Tour in 2021 having closed the week before with 75/72 after taking the halfway lead; likewise, back in 2016, he won the Myanmar Open after missing the cut the week before with a 2nd round 76. When presented with a low-scoring event, it’s clear that Shaun can quickly get back in the saddle and birdies soon erase any lingering bad memories from the previous week.

9th in this event last year before finishing 42nd a week later at the same venue, it was only 3 starts later that he won that aforementioned Steyn City Championship having finished 47th the week before when carrying my money, shooting 25-under which isn’t a bad marker for this week’s task in benign conditions. Aggressive enough off the tee to attack this course, I think Norris can significantly outperform his odds here this week. RESULT: T42

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:05GMT 30.1.23 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.