Ras Al Khaimah Classic

We move just up the coast this week to Ras Al Khaimah and the Al Hamra golf club for the second year on the spin. At 7,325 yards, this par 72 really suited the longest hitters in the game with Nicolai Hojgaard and Ryan Fox taking the spoils across the two events played here last term.

Hojgaard ranked 1st off the tee and 1st from tee to green with an equally impressive approach game. Wind played it's part last year and it certainly looked tricky to control some approaches, especially on the Sunday.

This week conditions look set to be calm for the duration but with the amount of rain that fell in the region last week you'd imagine this course would still be relatively soft and play into the longer hitters hands even more so than usual. 

Richard Mansell at 40/1 (Eight Places)

Ball Striking and length off the tee was the key to success here last year and one of the best in the field in those departments is Richard Mansell. The Englishman enjoyed a much more fruitful second season on tour in 2022 with top five finishes coming at the European Open, Handa Invitational and European Masters.

A further three top 10 finishes was a consistent enough year to take him all the way to season finale in Dubai. He ranked 9th from tee to green last week in Dubai to add to his 5th placed ranking in the same stat the week before in Abu Dhabi. He is hitting the ball tremendously well and should arrive in Ras full of confidence.

His putting is suffering a little but if he produces something akin to those top 10 efforts mentioned above on the greens then his ball striking is good enough nick to make a serious charge in this event. He went off the same price as Meronk and Perez for the DP World Tour Championship but with both of them having won since we see Mansell double their price here.

That doesn't quite add up to me as Mansell is hitting the ball as equally if not better than those two so the 40/1 must be snapped up.

2pts each-way R.Mansell  40/1  (1/5 8) Bet365

Richard Mansell - 2pts e/w @ 40/1

Kazuki Higa at 100/1 (Six Places)

One who must be backed this week is Japanese star Kazuki Higa. Higa has been hugely successful in Japan winning three times in 2022 and he added the Shinhan Donghae Open on the Asian tour in September also. Tucked in behind in that event was recent Sony Open winner and former Players Champion Si Woo Kim.

In November he went even better when winning the Dunlop Phoenix event beating Mito Pereira by three shots with Tom Kim and Corey Conners in behind also. That is an impressive bunch of players he has beaten in certain events and comes up against a handful who have yet to reach the quality of some players mentioned above.

He went well on this tour back in June finishing inside the top 10 at the BMW International before making the cut the following week at the Irish Open. 36th at the Zozo a couple of months ago was another fair effort finishing ahead of plenty of players who would be favourite for this event if they turned up.

A recent made cut at Waialae is another positive and dropped down into this grade he must be capable of producing an effort that would scare the front end of the market.

1pt each-way K.Higa 100/1  (1/5 6) William Hill, Unibet

Kazuki Higa - 1pt e/w @ 100/1

The Hojgaards, Perez, Fox, Meronk and Arnaus make up a formidable front end of the market this week given their pedigree for a test such as this. All hit the ball a mile and are more than capable of going well here once again.

The prices look correct though and it is very difficult to choose between them. My preference would be for Arnaus who at 28/1 looks a better proposition than the rest having gone well for a large part of last week before a calamity on the par 5 13th set him back during the third round.

Nevertheless it surely won't be long before this talented sort gets over the line and he remains the one I'm most worried about leaving off the staking plan.

Yannik Paul at 70/1 (Eight Places)

I'm prepared to take the chance on Yannik Paul this week who has struggled in his two starts to date this year. A missed cut in Abu Dhabi was followed by a 70th placed finish last week which has all largely been down to an under performing long game.

Both driving and approach did improve though from the week before and if there is further improvement this week then he is more than capable of landing a blow. The German had a great maiden season on tour in 2022 culminating in his win in Mallorca. 2nd in the Soudal Open and a handful of other top 10s were impressive efforts as was his qualification for the US Open.

Two top 20s at the Barbasol and Barracuda showed he was more than capable on a bigger stage and top 25s at the Nedbank and DP World Tour Championship was a fair end to the year. He is capable of much better than the last two weeks and a wide open layout like this should grant him some grace from the tee.

He made the cut on both occasions here in Ras last year putting poorly on both occasions so if he can return to some form on the greens I'd expect an improvement on the previous two weeks.

1pt each-way Y.Paul  70/1  (1/5 8) Bet365

Yannik Paul - 1pt e/w @ 70/1

Matthew Jordan at 60/1 (Eight Places)

Another worth chancing is Matthew Jordan who produced his best week with the irons last week in Dubai since last September. Jordan ranked inside the top 20 in both approach and off the tee last week on route to his first top 20 finish since Himmerland.

He should be suited by this test where he made both cuts last year and finished 13th on week one. Links courses or Desert tracks certainly look to be Jordan's best chances of getting into the frame and last weeks effort in a much better field makes him one to watch this week in Ras.

Portugal may be a good signpost as to who may play well here and a top five there in 2021 is a positive as is his top five finishes in Qatar and Scotland at the Dunhill Links. He should take huge confidence from his effort in better company last week and the 60/1 on offer looks too good to turn down.

1pt each-way M.Jordan  60/1  (1/5 8) Bet365

Matthew Jordan - 1pt e/w @ 60/1

Gary Hurley at 300/1 (Six Places)

Finally one at a massive price that must be included is Gary Hurley. The Irishman is now a winner on the Alps tour and has taken to the main tour in fine style since December after landing his tour card at the Q School.

Winning anywhere in the world is never easy but we have seen plenty come off the Alps tour to taste success on the DPWT. Hurley finished 35th in the SA Open, 32nd in the Dunhill and then 14th in Mauritius.  He ranked 8th off the tee in South Africa, and 12th off the tee in Mauritius hitting the ball a long way on both occasions.

He'll be used to coastal golf growing up in Ireland and given his pedigree and how he has performed thus far on tour he looks a massive price at 300/1.

0.75pt each-way G.Hurley  300/1  (1/5 6) Skybet, 888Sport, Unibet, BetUK

Gary Hurley - 0.75pts e/w @ 300/1