Roebuck’s Dubai Desert Classic preview: Back Rory to dominate
The 25th renewal of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club sees Tiger Woods (6/1) and Rory McIlroy (3/1) go head to head at the top of the market, but it’s not the world number who tops the betting, as that honour goes to the Ulsterman, who trades half the price of the 14-time Major champion.
That perhaps is no surprise given Woods missed the secondary cut in San Diego last week, when on Saturday he found only six fairways, seven greens and took 29 putts.
He was coming off a six-week break, and even though he has claimed the title twice at Emirates, there is little else to justify backing him at single figure odds.
In McIlroy, you have a player who would be even shorter in the betting if it wasn’t for Tiger’s presence in the field, so take advantage and back Rory to dominate.
McIlroy was only second to Pablo Larrazabal in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago because of a rules infringement that cost him two shots (he lost by one) and his form coming into this event reads 6-5-1-2. He won this tournament in 2009 and was fifth on his last visit in 2012.
He has started brilliantly on this track in the past, topping the leaderboard after day one in three of his last four starts at Emirates, so should also be backed to be the first round leader at 6/1 to boot.
The presence of Woods, McIlroy and world number three and former champion Henrik Stenson (14/1) means there are some big prices about in-form golfers, with Rafael Cabrero-Bello and Joost Luiten the two standout performers outside of the big three in the market at 20s.
Fans of the Spaniard must be tearing their hair out recently, as Cabrero-Bello led at halfway in Abu Dhabo and after 54 holes in Qatar in the past fortnight but failed to convert either position into victory.
If he is going to claim a title out in the Gulf then it is surely going to be in Dubai, where he must feel more comfortable given his win there in 2012.
Luiten just missed out on the each-way payout places in his last start in Abu Dhabi, when tipped in this column, but I’m quite happy to give the Dutchman, who can boast three top-six finishes in his last four starts on tour, another go.
My three to follow – McIlroy (3/1), Cabrero-Bello (20/1) and Luiten (20/1).