Best bets for the DP World Tour Hero Dubai Desert Classic

January 24, 2023 07:29 PM

The DP World Tour began its 2023 season last weekend starting the Middle East swing at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It also opened with a winner for this column as Frenchman Victor Perez won for us at 35-1 (the market opened anywhere from 50-1 to 55-1).

Perez spun a bunker shot back into the hole for birdie at No. 17 and celebrated wildly on the way to shooting 6-under 66 for a one-stroke victory at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday, earning him his third and easily biggest DP World Tour title. After the round, he called it "probably the greatest shot I've ever hit."

The Frenchman, 35-1 to complete the Abu Dhabi-Dubai sweep, finished -18 and one stroke ahead of Min Woo Lee and Sebastian Soderberg. Padraig Harrington was looking to become the oldest player to win on the DP World Tour but settled for fourth. Francesco Molinari and Alex Noren finished T-5 while Tyrrell Hatton, Shubhankar Sharma and Jason Scrivener finished T-7.

This week, the DP World Tour stays in the UAE with the Hero Dubai Desert Classic. Two-time DDC champion and OWGR No. 1 Rory McIlroy (2009, 2015) makes his usual calendar year debut this week at Dubai. McIlroy, the overwhelming favorite at +350, arguably has a score to settle with this event considering he should have won the event but elected to go for the green in two over water on the 72nd hole and ended up wet. He ended up third and missed the playoff (won by Viktor Hovland over Richard Bland) altogether.

 

Hatton (12-1) won in the Emirates two years ago in Abu Dhabi and has three top-4 finishes here including a fourth last year. Shane Lowry (16-1) co-held the 54-hole lead with Min Woo Lee (22-1 this week) and Francesco Molinari (35-1 this week) last week in Abu Dhabi but struggled to a 76 after finishing bogey-bogey-triple bogey-bogey to finish T-28. Tommy Fleetwood (18-1) is a two-time winner in the Emirates with consecutive wins in Abu Dhabi (2017, 2018) but seeks his first win in Dubai.

Robert MacIntyre (25-1) finished third here in 2021. Adrian Meronk (33-1) finished T-10 last week in Abu Dhabi and was fourth here last year.

Lucas Herbert was the 2020 champion here in Dubai. He is priced at 35-1 along with Thomas Pieters, who missed the cut last week in defense of his Abu Dhabi title.

The Event 

The Dubai Desert Classic was founded in 1989 and became the first European Tour event to be staged in the Arabian Peninsula, where it is now one of six events to be played there. The tournament was created by a Dubai government golf program to develop and promote professional and casual golf tourism in the city of Dubai and throughout the United Arab Emirates. The event is also notable because it was one of the first tournaments to embrace the concept of paying appearance fees to attract top players. That strategy has proved to be largely successful as the list of winners include many big names including Tiger Woods (2006, 2008), Rory McIlroy (2009, 2015), Ernie Els (1994, 2002, 2005) and other major champions such as Seve Ballesteros (1992), Fred Couples (1995), Jose Maria Olazabal (1998), Mark O’Meara (2004), Henrik Stenson (2007), Danny Willett (2016) and Sergio Garcia (2017). This event is also notable in terms of how it changed the way we watch golf on television. The Dubai Desert Classic was the first event televised live on Golf Channel when the network was founded in January 1995. Hero MotoCorp, a motorcycle and scooter manufacturer based in New Delhi, India, takes over as the tournament's title sponsor. The event also has been upgraded to a Rolex Series event with an increased prize fund of $9 million.

The Field

Ludvig Aberg

Issa Abou El Ela

Abraham Ancer

Marcus Armitage

Adri Arnaus

Oliver Bekker

Wil Besseling

Alexander Björk

Thomas Bjørn

Richard Bland

Dan Bradbury

Julien Brun

Rafa Cabrera Bello

Jorge Campillo

John Catlin

Aaron Cockerill

George Coetzee

Nicolas Colsaerts

Sean Crocker

Louis De Jager

Luke Donald

Jamie Donaldson

Hennie Du Plessis

Victor Dubuisson

Nacho Elvira

Ewen Ferguson

Ross Fisher

Tommy Fleetwood

Grant Forrest

Ryan Fox

Jeremy Freiburghaus

Stephen Gallacher

Daniel Gavins

Gavin Green

Julien Guerrier

Chase Hanna

Justin Harding

Padraig Harrington

Tyrrell Hatton

Marcus Helligkilde

Lucas Herbert

Angel Hidalgo

Calum Hill

Nicolai Højgaard

Rasmus Højgaard

Sam Horsfield

Daan Huizing

Scott Jamieson

Jazz Janewattananond

Miguel Ángel Jiménez

Andrew Johnston

Matthew Jordan

Masahiro Kawamura

Maximilian Kieffer

Nathan Kimsey

Marcus Kinhult

Søren Kjeldsen

Alexander Knappe

Espen Kofstad

Mikko Korhonen

Jacques Kruyswijk

Joakim Lagergren

Romain Langasque

Pablo Larrazábal

David Law

Thriston Lawrence

Min Woo Lee

Alexander Levy

Haotong Li

Zander Lombard

Hurly Long

Shane Lowry

Joost Luiten

Robert Macintyre

Richard Mansell

Rory Mcilroy

Tom Mckibbin

Adrian Meronk

Guido Migliozzi

Edoardo Molinari

Francesco Molinari

James Morrison

Lukas Nemecz

Niklas Nørgaard

Shaun Norris

Thorbjørn Olesen

Adrian Otaegui

Yannik Paul

Matthieu Pavon

Eddie Pepperell

Victor Perez

Thomas Pieters

Ian Poulter

Tapio Pulkkanen

Richie Ramsay

Patrick Reed

Jc Ritchie

Antoine Rozner

Kalle Samooja

Marcel Schneider

Jason Scrivener

Jack Senior

Shubhankar Sharma

Callum Shinkwin

Jordan Smith

Sebastian Söderberg

Matthew Southgate

Henrik Stenson

Sepp Straka

Ockie Strydom

Andy Sullivan

Connor Syme

Santiago Tarrio

Michael Thorbjornsen

Sami Välimäki

Darius Van Driel

Johannes Veerman

Nicolai Von Dellingshausen

Matt Wallace

Justin Walters

Jeunghun Wang

Paul Waring

Marc Warren

Lee Westwood

Dale Whitnell

Bernd Wiesberger

Oliver Wilson

Jeff Winther

Ashun Wu

Fabrizio Zanotti

Top 50 players in 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic field

1. Rory McIlroy

21. Shane Lowry

24. Tommy Fleetwood

26. Tyrrell Hatton

27. Sepp Straka

30. Ryan Fox

34. Abraham Ancer

39. Thomas Pieters

50. Min Woo Lee

The Course

The Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club has hosted the Dubai Desert Classic every year, except for 1999 and 2000, since its inception in 1989. This track, a par-72 of 7,428 yards, is an exposed desert layout designed by Karl Litten that is shorter than last week’s Abu Dhabi course and includes several dogleg holes that provide a bit more of a strategic test where wind can play more of a factor as it did last year. Be on alert for potential draw biases as the afternoon groupings often deal with substantially stronger winds than the morning groupings. The Bermuda greens are relatively quick (12-13 on the stimpmeter). There are four par-5s on the course, but three of them are on the back nine.

Recent History/Winners

2022: Viktor Hovland (-12/276); 10-1*

2021: Paul Casey (-17/271); 25-1

2020: Lucas Herbert (-9/279); 200-1**

2019: Bryson DeChambeau (-24/264); 10-1

2018: Haotong Li (-23/265); 110-1

2017: Sergio Garcia (-19/269); 20-1

2016: Danny Willett (-19/269); 40-1

2015: Rory McIlroy (-22/266); 7-2

2014: Stephen Gallacher (-16/272); 45-1

2013: Stephen Gallacher (-22/266); 70-1

2012: Rafael Cabrera-Bello (-18/270); 125-1

2011: Alvaro Quiros (-11/277); 16-1

2010: Miguel Angel Jimenez (-11/277); 66-1***

Playoff win over Richard Bland - *

Playoff win over Christiaan Bezuidenhout - **

Playoff win over Lee Westwood - ***

Selections

Tommy Fleetwood (18-1, BetMGM)

Despite finishing 12th here last year, Fleetwood led the field for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green and Strokes Gained: Approach.

A disappointing outing at Abu Dhabi after captaining the GBI side at the Hero Cup can be excused. Despite McIlroy being the proper favorite here, Fleetwood has drifted up a bit too much in the market.

Min Woo Lee (22-1, BetMGM)

Min Woo missed the cut here in his only appearance two years ago but is a much higher-class player in 2023.

He finished T-2 last week and was top-6 in the field for both Approach and Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green.

Robert MacIntyre (26-1, Boyd Sports)

MacIntyre might have been in contention last week if not for his putter.

Despite leading the field for Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee and being third Tee-To-Green, Bobby Mac was 63rd of 68 players that made the cut in putting.

Adrian Meronk (33-1, BetRivers)

Meronk finished fourth here last year and was T-10 last week in Abu Dhabi.

Like Perez last week, there is room for younger European players to make their case for making the Ryder Cup team. Meronk won twice in 2022, including last December at the Australian Open.

Thorbjorn Olesen (80-1, PointsBet)

Olesen has good form here with four finishes of eighth or better over the last 10 years.

The Dane revitalized his career last year with a victory at the British Masters, his first win in four years. 

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