Course winner Adri Arnaus can triumph again
Callum Shinkwin looks a little under-rated
France's Jeong Weon Ko is a lively outsider
It's the last week of the DP World Tour's Desert Swing and with no Rolex Series riches on offer in the prize fund the stars have left the scene.
In so doing they herald the start of a long spell on the schedule that stretches into the summer and which some will view as barren given that there be little or no glimpses of players ranked in the world's top 30.
Among these naysayers are the brains behind LIV Golf whose perception is that what golf fans really, really want is a cavalcade of events made up of the world's best players.
LIV Golf's flaw is that it had transparently failed to deliver on that quality and its central thesis, moreover, might be flawed.
They argue that it is backed up by market research, but when asked what this research was during last year's launch press conference at the Centurion Club the response suggested it was not exactly peer-reviewed.
I suspect that many golf fans really quite like regular events with less starry casts and am convinced committed punters are very much in this camp.
Which is to say that this week's field is not one that disappoints me, for example (and I happily admit to a certain bias in my wider analysis).
Indeed, a glance at the honours board at Al Hamra, home of the Ras al Khaimah Championship, offers just the kind of encouragement we punters thrive on, especially the most recent three names added to it.
The first of those, Adri Arnaus, won the 2018 Challenge Tour Grand Final at the course and the later two claimed triumph in back-to-back weeks this time last year on the main tour - Nicolai Hojgaard and Ryan Fox.
That trio have the capacity to give the ball a good biff from the tee (they each ranked top 10 for Driving Distance in 2022) and they use that length to make gains with their initial blows on par-4s and par-5s (they were ranked top 60 for Strokes Gained Off the Tee).
Ahead of those three wins, Jordan Smith won on the second tier, as did Jens Dantorp. The former topped SG Off the Tee and was top 30 for DD last year, the latter does not conform to such type but the man he beat in extra holes, Adrian Meronk, does (second for SG Off the Tee, also top 30 for DD).
With the likes of Johan Edfors, Sean Crocker, Victor Perez, Mathieu Pavon, Hurly Long and Zander Lombard contending in those five events it adds to the notion: we're after fellows who gain strokes with driver and they do so by letting rip.
A lot of what I have written thus far complies nicely with the preview of Steve Rawlings and first pick Adri Arnaus stays on track with him too.
That's because Steve notes how Challenge Tour form seemed to run smoothly into that initial fortnight of main tour golf last year - and Arnaus, who as we've already noted won the Grand Final here, went onto land ninth 12 months ago when second heading into the final round.
The 28-year-old finally made his winning breakthrough on the circuit later last year and thereafter endured something of a downward shift.
But he was ninth in the DP World Championship and then 13th last week in the Dubai Desert Classic, both of them fine results in their own right but also part of an excellent record in the United Arab Emirates.
Since his wire-to-wire win at Al Hamra he's teed it up in the UAE 16 times on the DP World Tour and landed 12 top 30s, eight of them top 15s.
That's a fine body of work and compares well with the rest of the field given that most of those events were played on tougher tracks and up against better fields.
His good effort last week was another example of how, when he likes a course, he repeats in that it was a fourth top 30 in five starts at Emirates.
He's also got multiple good finishes at Leopard Creek, Crans, Club de Campo, in Kenya and also, of course, here.
We know he fits the profile - he helped build it - but he's in nice form and looks over his post-first win slump.
I've got a bit of a feeling that Englishman Callum Shinkwin is being priced this week based on our long term knowledge of him rather than being bang up-to-date.
Of course, that's almost always the case - we can't forget what has happened in the past - but punters know that certain golfers have their short term form swiftly applied to their chances, often a little hastily.
Shinkwin, on the other hand, I think offers a touch of value in that regard.
This is a golfer who played nicely all summer before landing his second DP World Tour title in the Cazoo Open at Celtic Manor. He then finished second in the Dunhill Links Championship, impressed at the Hero Cup, was fourth last week in the Dubai Desert Classic and has missed just two cuts in 16 starts.
It's enough to help him rank fifth in this field for scoring average over the last six months.
That win last summer came when driver was a key weapon.
Admittedly it was on a tougher track than this week but he proved when claiming his first win at Aphrodite Hills in the Cyprus Open that he could use it in anger too.
Can an outsider, a player new to the circuit, thrive this week?
The test suggests it's a possibility and I'm taking the Frenchman Jeong Weon Ko to have a crack at it.
He's made three of four cuts this season and was fourth on his last start at the Mauritius Open, when able to attack a resort course much as he'll be able this week.
He also grabbed fourth at the Alcanada Resort in Spain at the Grand Final and co-led at Obidos with 18 holes to play - another resort course vulnerable to golfers with the foot to the floor.
He hits the ball a long way (ranking 11th this season) and makes gains doing it (third for SG Off the Tee).
I also liked Hurly Long a lot, but so does the compiler. Ko it is who makes up the team.
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