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Well, follow that!
Last week’s tournament on the DP World Tour turned into one of the most memorable in modern times as Rory McIlroy ousted Patrick Reed in a playoff to land his third Dubai Desert Classic crown.
But that doesn’t tell half the story following ‘Teegate’ and ‘Treegate’, Reid the controversial central character in both.
The DP World Tour stays in the United Arab Emirates this week for the final event of the Desert Swing although, in terms of field strength, this is way down on the previous fortnight when some leading lights battled it out for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Dubai Desert Classic - both Rolex Series events.
Many sports fans (and the wider public too) had never even heard of Ras Al Khaimah before last year, never mind thinking of it as a possible venue for a golf tournament.
The geography lesson was welcome - it’s part of the United Arab Emirates and about 10 times smaller than Dubai - and so was its ability to host back-to-back DP World Tour events when filling out a schedule had become difficult.
Ras Al Khaimah had put itself on the shortlist by staging three Challenge Tour events between 2016 and 2018.
They were all held at this week’s course, Al Hamra, and that was the location for last year’s double header too.
This event was won by Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard while fellow big hitter Ryan Fox captured the following week’s Ras Al Khaimah Classic - a one-off event after the Qatar Masters was postponed.
Al Hamra, set near the Persian Gulf coastline, has plenty of water hazards but fairly generous wideways and accessible Seal Isle Paspalum putting surfaces. That led to winning scores of -24 (Hojgaard) and -22 (Fox).
Drilling down to some stats of those two winners, Hojgaard and Fox ranked in the top two for both Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Tee To Green.
In summary, this is a birdie-fest but the key to sprinkling regular circles on the scorecard is what you do with drivers, irons and wedges. Bombers, in particular, look suited.
There aren’t that many long hitters when looking at the leading contenders.
Of those that can smash it, Ryan Fox hasn’t quite been on it this season and Nicolai Hojgaard is just as likely to score an unexpected win at a bigger price; he’s just +2000 here.
But I do like the look of Adri Arnaus, who ranked 10th for Driving Distance in last week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
The Spaniard finished tied 13th in Dubai having threatened much better than that when leading in round three and seems to love playing desert golf judged on his past results in the region.
Ninth at Novembr’s prestigious DP World Tour Championship in Dubai against a far classier field than this, Arnaus has racked up 10 top 20s in his last 12 starts in the United Arab Emirates.
That includes a ninth at this week’s venue, Al Hamra, in last year’s Ras Al Khaimah Classic.
But his relationship with Al Hamra doesn’t stop there as it was also the venue where Arnaus powered to victory in the 2018 Challenge Tour Grand Final.
After hinting at something big last week, let’s back the former Texas A&M grad at +2800 with Caesars Sportsbook to get the win.
Padraig Harrington shot a miserable opening 81 and missed the cut in last week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
So why do I want to back him in a 72-hole match bet against Richard Mansell this week?
Quite simply, that 81 is a complete outlier. Harrington couldn’t repair the damage but responded with a superb 65 on day two and that was far more typical of his desert form.
A week earlier he made the top four in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and that was his fourth top 10 in the UAE since the start of 2021. In other words, his strong play there is recent and not from his storied past.
Harrington was tied 27th here last year and his English opponent, Mansell, just can’t boast the same numbers however you cook it.
Mansell has 35th and a missed cut at Al Hamra while he’s had to settle for 50th and 51st in the last two weeks due to some miserable displays on the greens.
Bet365 makes it a pick ‘em but Harrington’s vastly superior desert form makes him the bet at -110.
Romain Langasque ranks 33rd in Driving Distance this season and comes in off a tied 16th in last week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
On first glance, his course form looks a worry as he missed the cut in both Ras Al Khaimah events last season.
But in the second of those he fired a Friday 66 and wind back a little and the Frenchman finished in the top six in both the Challenge Tour events he contested at Al Hamra.
Back Langasque for a top 10 at +450 with bet365.
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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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