A plethora of outsiders catch the eye at the Dubai Desert Classic, where some huge prices have already been matched on some perfectly plausible candidates.
Recent winner, John Catlin, who disappointed last week, has been matched at 990.0989/1, despite winning twice on the European Tour as recently as last summer and former back-to-back winner, Stephen Gallacher, who between 2012 and 2015 produced course form figures reading 2-1-1-3, has been matched at as high as 430.00429/1, despite sitting tied for sixth at halfway in Abu Dhabi last week.
I thought the enigmatic Eddie Pepperell looked a very big price given this is just his sort of test and the 2019 Portugal Masters winner Steven Brown is a huge price too given I really like that tournament as a correlating course angle in. But I'm happy to go with two who I'm surprised to see trading at triple figure odds.
Get with George at a juicy price
As highlighted in the preview, the Portugal Masters is a particularly good form line into this event and the 2020 winner, George Coetzee, ticks a number of other boxes too.
He's a terrific links exponent and he also has a strong bank of form at Doha, the old host course for the Qatar Masters, which is another course that correlates brilliantly with this one.
George's course form figures - MC-26-7-MC-38-MC since his debut fifth in 2012 - don't inspire greatly but they do need to be put into context. That fifth-place finish on debut came at the end of a three week stretch when playing in the region for the first time and on the back of an impressive sixth in Abu Dhabi and a 35th placed-finish in Qatar.
He's tended to need a few starts to get going at the beginning of each year and it's noticeable that Qatar, which most year's follows Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is where he has his strongest bank of form (35-2-5-12-7-MC-8-2-7) and that his best other effort here, the seventh place in 2017, came out of the blue and after his one and only missed cut in Qatar when the events were switched in the schedule again.
George lost his form after his win in Portugal last year but given his form in Abu Dhabi since he was placed there for three years in-a-row between 2012 and 2014 read 37-35-60-MC-MC-MC prior to last week's eye-catching 11th, he's very much of interest.
Back George Coetzee 1 ½ u @ 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 8.07/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Rising star can shine in the desert
There are plenty of highly promising youngsters emerging on the European Tour but the one I really like is the 19-year-old Dane, Rasmus Hojgaard, who has the potential to go to the very top.
Rasmus, the twin brother of Nicolai, who finished second to Sergio Garcia at the KLM Open back in 2019, has only had 50 worldwide starts so far and he's already won twice on the European Tour. He won the Mauritius Open in December '19 and the UK Championship in August and he also has another four top-six finishes.
The only reason this rising star is trading at a juicy price is that, so far, he's yet to shine in the desert but it's only a matter of time before he does.
Rasmus missed the cut here 12 months ago, as he did in Abu Dhabi, Saudi and Qatar so his 25th last week at the Abu Dhabi Championship, where he hit more greens in regulation than anyone else in the field, was a very encouraging performance.
Young players often find plenty on their second look at what was a new venue the previous season and that could well be the case here where Rasmus' long game and accurate iron play looks ideally suited. If he can knock a bit more rust off the putter, he can definitely contend, and it would be no surprise if this were one of the last chances we get to back him at a triple figure price.
Back Rasmus Hojgaard 1 ½ u @ 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 8.07/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Max can move on now back on Poa
Having begun the final round of last week's American Express tied for the lead, a tie for 21st wasn't the outcome Max Homa was hoping for, and there's an obvious danger that he may be hungover after last Sunday's dreadful four-over-par 76, but he's worth chancing back on Poa Annua greens.
The 2019 Wells Fargo Championship winner is a native of California so it's no surprise to see he's thrived at places like Pebble Beach, Riviera and indeed here, at Torrey Pines, where not everyone takes to the putting surfaces.
Homa was 10th at Pebble Beach in 2019 and having finished 48th in the American Express 12 months ago, he finished ninth here in this event, sixth at TPC Scottsdale in the Phoenix Open (where he now resides), 14th at Pebble and fifth in the Genesis at Riviera.
He finished the year with a 12th place at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in his final event of 2020, where he sat tied for 93rd after an opening 73, and where he finished top of the Putting Average rankings, and the putter's still warm given he ranked third last week.
In addition to trading him on the Exchange, Homa is an industry best price of 5/1 for a top-20 finish on the Sportsbook and that looks well worth taking.
Back Max Homa 1 ½ u @ 160.0159/1
Place order to lay 8u @ 8.07/1 & 8u @ 2.01/1
Max Homa Top-20 Finish 1 ½ u @ 5/1 (Sportsbook)
I'll be back on Thursday or Friday with the In-Play Blog.
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