The red carpet is out at the Emirates Golf Club for the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, an event flush with stellar names and none bring more attention than world number one Rory McIlroy.
The 2014 Race to Dubai champion heads into the final tournament of the desert swing in mean shape, where only an unsuccessful 20ft eagle putt prevented him forcing a play-off in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago.
Although McIlroy was forced to settle for second spot in the event for a fourth time in his career, no one in the field can boast the form figures the Ulsterman brings to the table.
Including his two major wins in 2014, the 3/1 favourite’s last six starts on the European Tour read second, tied second, tied second, first, first, first, when he revisits the scene of his 2009 triumph.
Since that point six years ago the Ulsterman hasn’t been out of the top 10 places in Dubai so there are far worse bets to be had on a golf course which rewards McIlroy’s length off the tee among his chief weapons.
Of the other forerunners, Stephen Gallacher’s unprecedented defence of this title last season makes him a superb 25/1 each-way shot, albeit the more modest 2/1 on the top 10 could be the path to near-guaranteed returns on the Scot.
Our pick, though, is 20/1 chance Lee Westwood. The Englishman has been a bridesmaid figure at the event over the years, finishing as runner-up on three separate occasions.
The most galling of which came in 2012, where he had a 20ft birdie putt to win it on the last, but it skipped past the cup.
Still, three top five’s in his last four starts at the Emirates Golf Club, with 15th position his lowest in that sequence, illuminates the value in a top-five finish for the Worksop native at 4/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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