EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 6 Places
Stephen Gallacher is a very fine golfer, one good enough to have played in a Ryder Cup. And yet his record at the Dubai Desert Classic is almost bizarre. While some players - Robert Rock winning Abu Dhabi for example - have a moment in the desert sun, Gallacher's body of work at Emirates GC is staggering. He's won this event twice (2013, 2014), finished second and third either side and also posted top 10s in 2011 and 2017. True, he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi (shot under-par in round two) last week but that was the fourth time in six years he's crashed out at halfway there. Gallacher showed some decent form in the second half of 2017 and back at Emirates GC, where he even takes his family for winter holidays, the Scot can't be left out of our staking plan at such big odds.
This tournament and course has always yielded numerous course specialists - ranging from very obvious elite types like Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy to Dave's pick, the twice former champion Stephen Gallacher, a very fine golfer but not a legend of the game. Andy Sullivan is yet to join the rollcall of Dubai champions but his record is superb - finishing top-12 on four out of six visits, including top-sixes in three of the last four. Needless to say that makes a strong argument for an each-way bet and, with the rough reportedly up this time, Andy's long, straight driving will be an even bigger weapon than usual. His record at the Portugal Masters - where he is a former champion and runner-up - also reads well as results there often correlate with the Emirates.
The stars would need to align to get Scott Jamieson over the line as he's not the most reliable in-contention but he looks a solid each-way proposition at this week's Dubai Desert Classic. The Portugal Masters is very often a great pointer for this event and Jamieson shot 60 there back in 2013, five years before Oliver Fisher fired the European Tour's first sub-60 round there last year. Jamieson was fifth here on debut in 2012 and he arrives in terrific form this time around, following a third in the Alfred Dunhill Championship before Christmas and an 11th place finish in Abu Dhabi last week. The 100/1 available is a sporting price.
Fourth place in this tournament last year was the second result of a golden run for Levy that yielded a top 10, two top fives and finally a win in the Trophee Hassan across a six tournament spell. It all kickstarted with seventh in Abu Dhabi and that, combined with the Dubai result, showed that Levy had got the hang of desert golf. Of course, last week's tie for 67th is a major step down from 2018's heroics but most golfers can be excused a rusty-ish warm-up. There's no doubting Levy's class - five wins in the last five years shows he can get the job done - and so the 100/1 looks, to my eye, a touch generous.
Horses for courses is the name of the game this week so I'll go with one of the more obvious course specialists in Cabrera-Bello at an industry-best 23/1. I sense this could be a big year for the supremely talented Spaniard who warmed up last year with a T40 in Abu Dhabi before finishing T6 here, so last week's T11 was extremely encouraging given he closed the event by shooting 67 in round four. A previous winner here in 2012 and a runner-up three years ago Cabrera-Bello openly admits to this event being one of his favourites on tour and an early season target. He can go a long way to showing us exactly why with a strong showing this week.