It's a controversial stop for the European Tour this week but that hasn't stopped a very strong field assembling for the riches on offer in Saudi Arabia. Here are the Betfair picks...
"I see no reason to desert Paul Waring who has started the season in fine form, finishing placed in both the Abu Dhabi Championship (sixth) and the Dubai Desert Classic (third). Having bagged his maiden European Tour victory just last summer the 33-year-old appears to have grown in confidence and judged on his last two efforts this strong field won't frighten him in the slightest. At 80/1 he's worth chancing to make it a hat-trick of placed efforts."
Mike Norman: Back Paul Waring @ 80/1
EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 6 Places
Dave Tindall: Back Thorbjorn Olesen @ 30/1
I have a feeling that one of the big names who couldn't care less about world politics will smile at the right time and take home the trophy with 24-under so this tournament isn't good for lots of reasons. The one I'll play is Thorbjorn Olesen. Having contended in majors and played in a Ryder Cup, he won't be fazed by going up against elite names, he makes loads of birdies and he's also got plenty of good form both in the desert and by the sea. After shaking off the rust with a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, the Dane hit it much straighter (18th DA) and sharpened up his short game when taking tied seventh in last week's Dubai Desert Classic so looks set for a strong week.
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Jordan Smith @ 50/1
The answer to this week's puzzle could be finding a player who makes few mistakes from tee to green, while accumulating plenty of birdies. Sounds obvious, for sure, but avoiding the penal bunkers is essential. Jordan Smith's long game has been rock solid of late and, over the past three months, his birdie average is an impressive 4.45 per round - the type of scoring one would associate with the elite-class market leaders. He could well join that league in due course and the early evidence suggests he's well suited to desert golf. Smith contended for three rounds at the elite DP World Tour Championship at the end of last year, and opened 2019 with a strong 11th at Abu Dhabi, followed by a respectable 29th last week in Dubai.
Steve Rawlings: Back Ernie Els @ 125/1
I'm pretty much in agreement with Dave here, and I too can see an elite name taking the title without a care in the world so for each-way purposes, we're arguably only playing for places. It's never easy when we go to a new venue but it looks linksy and I suspect desert and links golf specialists will come to the fore so after his eye-catching effort in Dubai last week, I'm happy to chance Ernie Els at an industry-wide best of 125/1. The shortness of the track will aid Ernie (who isn't as monstrously long as he once was) and it was very encouraging to see him putt so well last week. He fell away on Sunday to finish 12th but a place here is certainly not out of the question given he has just the game to suit the venue.
Joe Dyer: Back Soren Kjeldsen @ 100/1
A short, coastal, wind-whipped course you say? Sounds like the ideal layout for Soren Kjeldsen then. Fifth two weeks ago, the Dane missed the cut last week but the premium on length in Dubai would have been against him and it wasn't like a horrendous blowout on my man's part (plus the rest may have done the veteran a little good!) Kjeldsen has plenty of good form on blowy, linksy tracks and his good stats for accuracy off both tee and fairway will stand him in good stead this week.
Mike Norman: Back Paul Waring @ 80/1
A new venue always causes a few headaches when making a selection, it's even more of a headache this time around when the field comprises of some of the world's best golfers, so finding a decent-price player to at least place won't be easy. But from what we know the Royal Greens course isn't especially long, and with large penal bunkers and water in-play on some holes, the slightly shorter, more accurate hitters might just have a tiny edge. So I see no reason to desert Paul Waring who has started the season in fine form, finishing placed in both the Abu Dhabi Championship (sixth) and the Dubai Desert Classic (third). Having bagged his maiden European Tour victory just last summer the 33-year-old appears to have grown in confidence and judged on his last two efforts this strong field won't frighten him in the slightest. At 80/1 he's worth chancing to make it a hat-trick of placed efforts.
2019 Season P/L to date: -£180.00
- Abu Dhabi Championship, Joost Luiten @ 80/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- Mauritius Open, Justin Harding @ 30/1 - PLACE (Dave)
*2018 P/L: +£727.16
*2017 P/L: -£306.84
*2016 P/L: +£267.58
*2015 P/L: +£958.37
*2014 P/L: +£251.75