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|Rafa Cabrera Bello||+3500
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Victor Perez bounced back to form with a top 10 in Portugal last week and has an excellent record in the desert. Back him each way at +4000 with bet365.
Andy Sullivan is a three-time runner-up in the UAE and consistently outscores Jordan Smith in desert events. Take Sullivan to win over 72 holes at –105 with bet365.
England’s Ross Fisher has a string of top 20 finishes in the United Arab Emirates and, after a decent week in Portugal, he can rack up another top 20 at +375 with bet365.
We’ve reached the home stretch on this year’s European Tour.
Just two events are left on the schedule and both take place at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
First up it’s the AVIV Dubai Championship on the Fire Course and next week we conclude with the season-ending DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course.
Mention of the latter gives an ideal opportunity to mention the big news in Europe this week.
The European Tour is no longer, in name at least.
Instead, from the start of the 2022 season, it will be re-named the DP World Tour.
As European Tour chief Keith Pelley said this week: “The presence of ‘World’ in our new title better reflects our global reach.”
It’s a fair point: of the 47 events scheduled next year, 23 will be played in Europe and 24 take place in other parts of the globe.
Anyway, back to this week and it’s just the second edition of the Dubai Championship.
The first proved a total birdie-fest as Frenchman Antoine Rozner won with 25-under and the first seven home all shot at least 20-under.
The Fire Course – as is next week’s Earth Course – was designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2010.
It features large, undulating greens and lots of sand. Par is 72 (the Par 5s are at 5, 7, 13 and 18) while it plays to 7,480 yards from the tips.
Overall, it’s a fairly typical track for this part of the world, so past form in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates is very relevant.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Victor Perez in 2021.
In the early months of the season, he followed up a tied fourth in the Saudi International by reaching the semi-finals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas two starts later.
That took him to 30th in the world and secured his place in all the big events.
But from looking a likely candidate for the Ryder Cup, the Frenchman missed eight of his next 14 cuts and dropped out of the top 50. He’s currently 70th.
It looked as if his season was petering out but last week he turned a corner with tied eighth place in the Portugal Masters.
Now he has momentum heading into what could be two big weeks for him.
Perez, as that fourth place in Saudi showed, is a proven performer in desert conditions.
Looking through his record in the United Arab Emirates reveals a second place in the Challenge Tour’s Grand Final in 2018 and another runner-up finish in the 2020 Abu Dhabi Championship.
At the DP World Tour Championship where he’ll be heading next week (the top 50 on the Race to Dubai qualify and Perez he’s 39th), Perez finished seventh last year and 20th on debut.
Low scoring looks the order of the day this week so it’s worth noting that Perez won the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Championship with 22-under.
In addition, his two Challenge Tour titles were achieved with 19-under and 24-under.
Given his improved current form, location form and enjoyment of birdie-fests, Perez looks a great each-way bet at +4000 (1/4 1-2-3-4-5)
With just one year of course form, I’ll lean on past desert results to guide me on the 72-hole match-ups.
Andy Sullivan is definitely a desert rat and looks well worth a bet to outscore fellow Englishman Jordan Smith.
Sullivan has seven top 10s in the UAE and that includes three-second places. If you really want to seal the deal, you can add another six top 25s.
The most recent second place came in this very event last year when he opened with a 61 and went on to shoot 23-under, a score that wins the vast majority of tournaments.
Sullivan has had a tricky run over the last few months but he’s made three of his last four cuts and a decent finish in Portugal last week was only spoiled by a poor closer.
Smith beat him there although Sullivan was higher up the leaderboard after 54 holes.
In the desert, I’m confident Sullivan can turn the tables over 72.
Smith makes almost all his cuts in the desert but he’s managed just a single top 10 in 23 starts at tournaments played in the UAE, Saudi and Qatar.
In other words, Sullivan consistently outscores Smith in the desert and I’ll back the former at -105 to win their head-to-head again.
Only four players in this week’s field have posted more top 20s in the Middle East over the last four years than Ross Fisher.
The Englishman has been a leaderboard regular in the desert and last year he followed up a sixth in Abu Dhabi with a seventh on this week’s course after opening with a 63.
Those are two of seven top 20s he’s had in the region since November 2017 so the +375 that he’ll have another looks good value.
The only concern is that his current form hasn’t been good enough but a top 30 in last week’s Portugal Masters allays those fears and suggests the veteran isn’t too far away.
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|AVIV Dubai Championship|
|What||AVIV Dubai Championship|
|Location||Fire Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE|
|Time||Thursday, November 11 – Sunday, November 14|
|How to Watch||Thursday 5 am-8 am (Golf Channel), Friday 5 am-8 am (Golf Channel), Saturday 5 am-7.30 am (Golf Channel), Sunday 3 am-7.30 am (Golf Channel). All 4 days on Sky Sports|
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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.
Email: [email protected]More info on Dave Tindall
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