Rory McIlroy is a red hot favourite to land the Dubai Desert Classic this week but with some top class players in opposition the world number one might not have matters all his own way. Betting.betfair's golf experts have come up with these five men as an each-way alternative...
"A windy weekend is forecast which would elevate Ernie’s chances above much of the field and this four-time major winner has no reason to fear any of the big names at the top of the betting."
Joe Dyer: Back Ernie Els @ 51.050/1
*Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places
Dan Geraghty: Back Emiliano Grillo @ 41.040/1
This week's selection is an easy one for me; course form (second last year) and recent form (fifth last week) coupled with another year's experience in-between means 22-year-old Argentinian Emiliano Grillo is the man to beat (barring Rory McIlroy) this week. Grillo recorded his first win as a professional in his national open in December and it looks like he's started 2015 right where he left off.
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Eddie Pepperell @ 67.066/1
Leaving aside the occasional surprise winner, the cream invariably rises to the top in this event, certainly more so than the Race to Dubai average. The course records of almost all recent elite players are impeccable, usually from very early in their careers. This was Rory McIlroy's first title, for example, while Martin Kaymer finished second on debut. Whether Eddie Pepperell goes on to emulate those multiple major winners remains to be seen, but he is certainly a top drawer prospect. Sunday's fourth place was the fifth time he's rewarded each-way backers in 12 starts, demonstrating pretty rapid progress. A breakthrough win is imminent and, while this company is red hot, he's in-form and well capable of challenging.
Joe Dyer: Back Ernie Els @ 51.050/1
It all looked so bright for me after the first round in Qatar with my pick Ollie Fisher heading up the pack. A tournament is never done on day one of course and he couldn't stick around, eventually finishing tied 10th. From the youth of Fisher I turn to the old guard in the form of Ernie Els. The Big Easy has played both legs of the Desert Swing finishing T12 in Abu Dhabi and T23 in Qatar, nothing special but two cuts made and the stats are promising. Ernie was 11th longest off the tee last week - a big advantage in Dubai - while his greens-in-regulation were impressive, too. More importantly this is a course he has dominated in the past with three wins to his name. A windy weekend is forecast which would elevate Ernie's chances above much of the field and this four-time major winner has no reason to fear any of the big names at the top of the betting.
Steven Rawlings: Back Stephen Gallacher @ 26.025/1
Stephen Gallacher has been a regular at last week's event, the Qatar Masters, for many years but it's fair to say he doesn't perform brilliantly there. In his last 10 visits he's missed the cut four times and he's not finished inside the top-10 once but it's proved a superb warm-up for this event for him. After he missed the cut there in 2012, he finished runner-up here and prior to his back-to-back wins over the last two years here, he finished a tailed off 59th in Qatar and a never-in-it 28th. In the final round on Saturday, on his way to finishing 33rd, he hit a five-under-par 67, which was his best knock around Doha in 10 years. Think the defending champ's not in form? We'd better think again. He absolutely loves the Emirates and at 25/1 he looks a fair price to place for a fourth year in-a-row and to win the event for a third time.
Mike Norman: Back Branden Grace @ 26.025/1
In a high class renewal of the Dubai Desert Classic it's extremely difficult to envisage a lot of the big names not being in contention come Sunday afternoon, so looking for outsiders to contend is a no-go this week. I'm struggling to catch Branden Grace right this season, backed when 20th in Abu Dhabi I neglected him last week only to see him win the Qatar Masters, but at least that win tells us the South African is bang in form. What's more, Grace seems to thrive on momentum and it won't be the first time in his career that he wins back-to-back if he follows up in Dubai. His form at the Emirates Golf Club isn't great admittedly, but there's no reason why that should be the case and this desert-loving, in-form multiple winner, can carry on climbing the world rankings with another bold showing.
2015 P/L (£5 e/w per selection)
Year to date P/L: -£150.00
*Total P/L for 2014: +£251.75