Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson are in the Dubai Desert Classic field making everyone else's prices look huge - so who are the Betting.Betfair team backing this week?
"Perhaps I am guilty of backing an average player in hot form this week with a play on Stephen Gallacher. Perhaps. But Gallacher’s play throughout 2013 and into this year has been really impressive and maybe he has found something that has elevated him beyond average."
Joe Dyer - Back Stephen Gallacher @ 41.040/1
Dan Geraghty - Back Tiger Woods @ 6.511/2
It's 29.028/1 bar the trio of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson this week and it's hard to see one of the star names not taking the title. From 2006 to 2009 the aforementioned players shared this title between them and all three have exceptional form at the famous Emirates course. Tiger's MDF (made cut did not finish) last week doesn't worry his coach Sean Foley, who said, "It's just three days in a long year. I like what I'm seeing in practice, so we'll just continue working and see where it takes us." And it doesn't put me off backing the great man at a slightly inflated price. Woods has missed a handful of cuts in his career and more often than not he's bounced straight back with a good finish or indeed a win next time out. Woods missed the cut on his first appearance last year (Abu Dhabi) before winning at Torrey Pines the very next week. His early finish at the Farmers also means he was able to arrive in Dubai slightly earlier to prepare (he was expected Sunday evening).
Joe Dyer - Back Stephen Gallacher @ 41.040/1
In-form 'average' players come and go in golf and always look underpriced at the top of the market. Look at Rafa Cabrera Bello this week - outstanding play in the Desert Swing combined with a Dubai Desert Classic win in 2012 and he is fourth favourite, 12 ticks shorter than evergreen Thomas Bjorn and one third the price of Miguel Angel Jimenez, both of whom have won the tournament too. So perhaps I am guilty of backing an average player in hot form this week with a play on Stephen Gallacher. Perhaps. But Gallacher's play throughout 2013 and into this year has been really impressive and maybe he has found something that has elevated him beyond average. Starting with a win in Dubai last year, the Scot has reeled off six more top 10 finishes including eighth place in Abu Dhabi earlier this month. Gallacher is long off the tee, accurate with his irons and has decent Portugal Masters form in the bank, something The Punter valued highly last year.
Mike Norman - Back Alvaro Quiros @ 46.045/1
Like last week's Doha test, the Emirates Golf Club is possibly at the mercy to those who hit it long off the tee rather than the average length hitters on the European Tour. All four par 5s will be in reach of big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros and with a couple of par 4s around the 350-yard mark expect this previous Desert Classic winner to have plenty of birdie opportunities this week. Quiros was a popular pick in Qatar seven days ago and he slightly disappointed to a certain extent, but he got four solid rounds under his belt and will be confident of going well in a part of the world that he clearly loves playing in. After a T28 last week and a T31 in Abu Dhabi (best round in eight being a 69) Quiros is due a low one. Expect it to come in Dubai and expect him to go well once more.
Steve Rawlings - Back Branden Grace @ 41.040/1
Branden Grace has started 2014 well and his stats appear to fit the Emirates Course well. Last week in Qatar he ranked third for driving distance and 15th for greens hit, the two key stats this week. And 10th for putting was pretty impressive too. He's only played here once before, in 2012, when he failed to break 70. That is a negative but given his current form and that his stats look perfect, he looks a fair each-way price at 41.040/1.
Paul Krishnamurty - Back Romain Wattel @ 67.066/1
Romain Wattel caught the eye in this event a couple of years ago with a disaster-strewn 12th place which carried all the hallmarks of a brilliant yet inexperienced prospect so, having already earmarked the young Frenchman as one of the likeliest first-time winners to follow throughout 2014, this looks a particularly ripe target. A ruinous 74 on Saturday cost Wattel a chance to go very close to that elusive first win, but he was only beaten by four shots in 11th place, again showing a suitability for desert golf. Following soon after consecutive top-four finishes to close out 2013, he is clearly in-form and on the up."
1. Dan Geraghty: +£27.50
2. Mike Norman: -£40.00
2. Joe Dyer: -£40.00
2. Steve Rawlings: -£40.00
2. Paul Krishnamurty: -£40.00