European TourGolf

Golf betting: Extra yards to make the difference for Rahm in Dubai

November 19, 2019January 6th, 2022

AFTER 46 events in 31 countries the European Tour has turned into the home straight in this year’s Race to Dubai.

At the conclusion of this week’s action on the Earth Course at Jumeirah one man will be crowned winner of the DP World Tour Championship (and with it earn $3 million, the largest first prize in tournament golf) whilst another will end the season ranked number one in the Tour rankings and with it cash the majority of a Bonus Pool.

That man will be either Bernd Wiesberger, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry or Matthew Fitzpatrick, the current one to five.

First Round Leader – Rory McIlroy at 10/1 each way

The Northern Irishman likes this week’s track, proving it with six top tens, including two wins, in nine starts. He’s also, of course, been in great form throughout 2019, earning 18 top tens in 24 appearances. It will obviously hurt that he’s failed to increase his major count, but the Players Championship, Canadian Open, Tour Championship and HSBC Champions is a pretty decent haul. Moreover, the manner in which he polished off the last of those wins last time out was impressive.

On the other hand he doesn’t have his regular caddie alongside him this week. There will be snipers who suggest that is no bad thing, but that would be churlish, especially as the one-time replacement is ex-rugby player Niall O’Connor, for whom this is a week away from his day job in New York. McIlroy is well capable, as are most elite golfers, of thriving in an ad-hoc partnership, but at short prices to win I’m not keen. It strikes me that the difficulties, if they do arise, would be at the sharp end on Sunday afternoon whilst there is every chance that the pair could have a great time on Thursday. His first round record on the course shows one shared lead and another place finishes.

Winner – Jon Rahm at 7/1

The Earth Course is a bruiser’s paradise. A par-72 that stretches to 7,677 yards, six of the ten par-4s are over 450 yards, there’s a 245-yard par-3 and the two back nine par-5s are 620 and 626 yards. It’s perhaps no surprise that the Spaniard has found it to his liking. “It’s a great golf course,” he said after his first practice round two years ago. “It really suits me. I can just hit it as hard as I can. Extra yards are always an advantage, but they are a huge advantage here.” Did he back up those words? Yes. He carded 69-68-65-67 to spend the entire week within four strokes of the lead and eventually win by one. On defence last year he shot 67-70-69-68, once again ending every round within four blows of first place.

Moreover he has thrived when playing on the European Tour. In fact if you take out the majors and World Golf Championship events he has five wins from 14 starts at this level. This year alone he has won the Irish Open after an imperious final round of 62, was third at the BMW PGA Championship and then a winner of the Open de Espana, his third round 63 opening up a five-shot lead he maintained on Sunday.

Outsider – Ben Hebert 150/1

Eight of the ten winners on this course had already won in the Middle East before claiming this title and they were all in form (having recorded a top ten finish in at least one of their previous two starts). These were two trends I noted ahead of last year’s tournament, ones which highlighted Danny Willett, who I ignored and he promptly won. This year the same filters create a short-list that would surprise few. It includes McIlroy, Rahm, Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood. But there is one other name, that of this season’s nearly man.

Frenchman Hebert has been good enough to contend in three play-offs this year; he’s also contrived to lose all three, in China, Scotland and Turkey. The last of those provides the necessary proof of his good form so what of his Middle East win? That’s where we’re being a little sneaky, because his success was in the Challenge Tour’s Grand Final in Dubai five years ago. Winners here also tend to thrive in Tee to Green and Approach stats; Hebert ranks 27th and 16th this term. Those who can’t see him breaking the tape can take the conservative route and back him at 20/1 for a top five and/or 15/2 for a top ten.