EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 7 Places
After finally gaining his first European Tour win (at the 200th attempt) in last summer's Nordea Masters, the man from Birkenhead is clearly carrying plenty of confidence. He certainly showed that on the first part of the Desert Swing last month when posting T6 in Abu Dhabi and T3 at the Dubai Desert Classic. They were against fields far stronger than he takes on this week. Waring played the inaugural Oman Open at Al Mouj last year and on first glance his T44 looks modest. However, he came into the event on the back of three missed cuts (two of those in Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and actually shot a 65 in round one to have a piece of the lead. He was still in the top three at halfway before being undone by a Saturday 81. On current form, he looks capable of putting four rounds together and the industry-best 60/1 definitely appeals.
The wait for Matthew Southgate's first victory goes on, but the 30-year-old from Southend is evidently capable at this level. Twelve months ago he held the lead going into the final round here only to blow up with a 75. Hopefully there are no lingering mental scars because this is one of his likeliest targets of the year. Possessing one of the most accurate long games, there's no doubt that linksy or wind-exposed courses bring out his best. Southgate has twice finished top-12 in an Open Championship and been runner-up in an Irish Open. His best result of 2018 was fifth in the elite Open de France - at another exposed track with a premium on accuracy.
The Al Mouj Golf Course has a very linksy feel to it and the leaderboard was dominated with links exponents at last year's inaugural staging of the Oman Open. The winner, Joost Luiten, won his national title, the KLM Open, at the Kennemer Links in 2013, having finished runner-up there way back in 2007, in one of his first starts on the European Tour. The man who beat him that day, Ross Fisher, is playing here for the first time this week but he arrives in fair form and he should love the venue. The Englishman doesn't win as often as he should but this looks ideal for him and I expect him to contend.
Victor Dubuisson may just be three events into his comeback but all is going well it would seem. A missed cut in Hong Kong late last year has been swiftly filed away and two appearances on the Gulf Swing yielded a 38th and then 18th to confirm this classy operator still retained his abilities. Good enough to make a Ryder Cup team, Dubuisson has reportedly had a complicated relationship with the game and then ended up missing most of last year with a burst ear drum. However, he has sounded a positive note since and the 50/1 chance has his conditions this week - he performs well in the Middle East and linksy conditions do not scare him. Given he has won twice in his European Tour career and has numerous high finishes in good quality events the 50s might look a steal come Sunday afternoon.
This week's links-like test, where plenty of birdies should be on the menu, should be right up Dean Burmester's street. The popular South African has always struck me as a bit of a birdie-machine when on his game and it's no surprise that all his career wins - including on the European Tour this time two years ago - have come in low-scoring events. That's what we should get here in Oman this week, so it's highly encouraging that Burmester arrives on the back of a third-place finish in the Dimension Data Pro-Am - a strong Sunshine Tour event - last time. The 29-year-old has had a relatively slow start to 2019 other than that third place finish, but it was only a few months ago that he finished T4 in the DP World Tour Championship. In fact, he was finishing T4 for the second successive year in that high class event, proving that he can play very well in this part of the world on links-type set-ups.