Dubai Desert Classic - Winner

The Majlis Course has long since been the home of this event and we have plenty of interesting talking points as we survey the market. The course isn't so demanding off the tee, certainly not as much as last week and more birdie opportunities await here. The wind looks sure to blow throughout the event but once again won't have the same impact than what it did last week at Yas Links. The winners and placers here have been a 'who's who' of Open and Links specialists. 2018 Champion Haotong Li finished 3rd on his first trip over the Open. 2017 Champion and runner up Garcia and Stenson have long been Open experts. McIlroy, Woods, Els and O'Meara are other winners here that have held the Claret Jug aloft. In 2013 and 2014 Stephen Gallacher went back to back here and one of his two other European Tour wins arrived at the Dunhill Links. It pays here to concentrate on this aspect here. The Portugal Open is another relevant link as well as the usual Desert form.

Rory McIlory at 8/1 (Eight Places)

There isn't anywhere else to start this week but analyse the chances of tournament favourite Rory McIlroy. 13/2 last week makes way for 8/1 for the Desert Classic and that doesn't quite add up to me despite the addition of Garcia and Casey. McIlroy only just made the cut last week but managed to be the best scorer in the field over the final two rounds shooting 67-69. Of those who made the cut he finished 7th in SG Off the tee and that his first week with his new Taylor Made Driver suggests even more improvement is on the way. This course lends itself to the driver and McIlroy will be able to open his shoulders here and gain significant advantage on the majority of the field. He will need to putt a little better than last week but he can get on a roll at this place. He has won this event twice at this venue and not been outside of the top ten in his last eight visits. Some may point to his limped finish last week at Yas LInks when he had a chance to post a number but the finish there was playing incredibly difficult and when you're pushing like he needed to in order to post that number dropped shots are almost inevitable. The Majlis represents a huge opportunity for McIlroy and with Hovland and Morikawa little form here he holds all the aces. 

3.5pts each-way R.McIlroy 8/1 (1/5 8)

Rory McIlory - 3.5pts e/w @ 8/1

Thomas Detry at 60/1 (Eight Places)

Thomas Detry is likely to take inspiration from his good friend's win last week in Abu Dhabi and he fits the bill here to have a good run. As I mentioned before the winners rota here is littered with links specialists, and although the Belgian can't be considered in that bracket he managed a runner up in Scotland last Summer in a very deep field. He has made his last four cuts at this venue with his best finish coming last year courtesy of a top ten. He was impressive off the tee last week but his game deteriorated the closer he got to the green. A 53rd place was a fair reflection of how he played but the Majlis course will undoubtedly suit him better and his strong game off the tee should give him plenty of opportunities to score. He won the World Cup a few years ago alongside Pieters and with enough experience in the bank now he could go close in one of these big events and maybe kick on a little quicker than what Pieters did.

1pt each-way T.Detry 60/1 (1/5 8)

Thomas Detry - 1pt e/w @ 60/1

Erik Van Rooyen at 40/1 (Seven Places)

Having invested in Erik Van Rooyen last week it would be foolish not to get involved at the same price. He finished 12th last week on a challenging layout and looks the type to be improving week on week. He was hugely impressive towards the end of 2021 in the States and has continued that form early into the 2022 calendar. He is firing better than most and has the odd bit of links form I'm looking to once again this week. fourth at Ballyliffin, sixth at Renaissance and a top 20 at Carnoustie is enough on the CV like plenty of others who have played well here. He hit 75% of greens last week at Yas Links which is a very decent effort and if he can do similar here this week he holds every chance.

1pt each-way E.Van Rooyen 40/1 (1/5 7)

Erik Van Rooyen - 1pt e/w @ 40/1

Ryan Fox at 150/1 (Eight Places)

Finally I'll have a small bet on Ryan Fox. The links connection is a strange one at this place bar the wind that often materialises. However there is a connection for sure and Fox has had most of his best finishes on links tracks. Runner up at Ballyliffin, 4th at Portstewart, 4th at Dundonald and 6th at Gullane is an example of just how well he has gone on those layouts. His best major finish to date has come courtesy of a top 20 at Portrush also. He has a high draw off the tee and this is beneficial around the Majlis course. His length will give him an advantage also. We can expect a better week on the greens and with the track to suit this week he's worth chancing at triple figures.

0.5pt each-way R.Fox 150/1 (1/5 8)

Ryan Fox - 0.5pts e/w @ 150/1