Dubai: Best bets
Dave Tindall looks at the leading contenders and best wagers in the DP World Tour Championship.
By Dave Tindall
Last Updated: 21/11/12 6:00pm
Rory McIlroy has already wrapped up the Race To Dubai (the season-long money list) which takes a little of the gloss off this week's finale - the DP World Tour Championship.
But with 57 of the European Tour's elite stars on show, the tournament is a fascinating stand-alone in itself.
The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates plays host for the fourth year running and it's a bit of a beast at 7,675 yards.
As you'd expect in this part of the world, the weather forecast for the tournament is hot, sunny and dry
The market leaders (Sky Bet odds):
Rory McIlroy (6/1): It's been a sensational season for McIlroy but does he still have enough gas in the tank to crown it in style? A surprise missed cut in Hong Kong last week suggested a break can't come soon enough and when you see how much pre-tournament publicity he has to do in these global events it's perhaps not a surprise that he's not able to give his very best. He's made the top five in two of his three starts here so the course holds no fears and taking in all the events he's played in the UAE (which includes the Dubai Desert Classic and the Abu Dhabi Championship) he's not finished worse than 11th since 2008.
Latest strokeplay form: MC-3-2-10
Course form: 11-5-3
Race To Dubai ranking: 1
Louis Oosthuizen (9/1): It's a mark of the South African's standing in the game nowadays that Sky Bet feel obliged to put him in at a single-figure price in a field of this quality. But the 2010 Open champ, who came within a whisker of winning this year's Masters, has been in superb form and a sixth place here last year suggests it's a good course for him. Three times he's shot six-under 66 and he has to be one for the shortlist.
Latest strokeplay form: 2-6-6-4
Course form: 6-13-12
Race To Dubai ranking: 4
Luke Donald (9/1): It's easy to think this vast course may be a little long for Donald but he's finished ninth and third here in the last two years and shot 67-69-70-72-68-66-66 in his last seven rounds on it. He also comes into the event on the back of an impressive win in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan so his confidence is right up. Last year, his third place secured him the Money List double and perhaps there was a feeling he could do no wrong. It's not quite been the same in 2012 so, despite the Japan win, perhaps it'll be a close but no cigar week for Luke.
Latest strokeplay form: 1-18-3-3
Course form: 3-9-37
Race To Dubai ranking: 8
Ian Poulter (12/1): Having played like superman at the Ryder Cup, it's no surprise that the Englishman has flourished in his three starts since then. The highlight of his late-season burst was his superb win in the WGC-HSBC, the hefty first-prize cheque helping him arrive in Dubai ranked fifth in the money list. Poulter could well feel this tournament owes him one. Two years ago he was edged out in a play-off by Robert Karlsson, the loss made worse by him incurring a one-shot penalty on the second extra hole after he dropped his ball on his marker and moved it.
Latest strokeplay form: 2-1-4-12
Course form: 22-2-9
Race To Dubai ranking: 5
Lee Westwood (12/1): It's been a period of change for Westwood over the last few months as he's switched coaches and last week he had to make the gut-wrenching decision to drop good friend and long-time caddie Billy Foster, who is still recovering from injury. It means Westy hasn't had that same look of invincibility that he's previously shown in the season-ending events including this one in 2009 when he demolished the field by six shots. Perhaps for now, this isn't the best time to be backing him.
Latest strokeplay form: 6-14-30-2
Course form: 29-3-1
Race To Dubai ranking: 12
Martin Kaymer (16/1): As with several of the European team, the Ryder Cup has had a galvanizing effect on Kaymer. The man whose putt ensured the trophy stayed in European hands now has progressive form figures of 11-9-3 and the signs suggest he's going to start climbing the world rankings again. He's previously produced some fantastic play in the UAE although here's still a doubt though whether this his is favourite track. He did fire a 64 last year on the way to an 11th place finish but that was his best effort in three years playing here.
Latest strokeplay form: 3-9-11-MC
Course form: 11-13-37
Race To Dubai ranking: 28
Peter Hanson (18/1): The Swede has enjoyed a brilliant season and sits second to Rory McIlroy in the Race To Dubai standings. Although he's been bracketed as a player who wobbles under pressure, Hanson's improved confidence means he's now taking the chances which come his way and he's posted victories in two of his last five starts. Being the 54-hole leader and eventually finishing third at Augusta also played a big part in his improved confidence and he's now a man to be feared.
Latest strokeplay form: 24-1-8-34
Course form: 4-13-9
Race To Dubai ranking: 2
Justin Rose (20/1): Rose has made only one previous start here and that produced a pretty forgettable tied 50th place in the inaugural event in 2009. Since then, of course, he's blossomed into a world-class player who has pocketed four US Tour wins over the last three seasons, including the WGC event at Doral back in March. Rose hasn't had the Middle East Swing on his schedule since basing himself in the US but, apart from that 50th, his only other start in the region over the last four years was a second place in the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009.
Latest strokeplay form: 24-6-2-16
Course form: 50 (2009)
Race To Dubai ranking: 3
Henrik Stenson (22/1): After dropping some big hints that he was back to form, Stenson finally put all the pieces together to score a convincing victory in last week's South African Open. It means he's now recorded five top eights and win in his last nine European Tour starts. The Swede has also had a string of big results on the Middle East Swing (he's won in Qatar and Dubai) so don't rule out a follow-up win.
Latest strokeplay form: 1-19-26-27
Course form: 24-23
Race To Dubai ranking: 45
Best of the rest:
Francesco Molinari (25/1): The Italian, now nicknamed "Blackbeard" by coach Denis Pugh after a recent sprouting of facial hair, has finished sixth in each of the last two years here while he's had four top eights and a 16th in his last five starts in the UAE. Add in a fifth place in Singapore last time out and there is lots to like.
George Coetzee (30/1): Coetzee is surely the next cab off the rank when it comes to the next South African to win a biggie and, despite the elite company, this could even be the week. He has a sixth and fifth on the Middle East Swing earlier this year and was runner-up in last week's South African Open.
Shane Lowry (50/1): The Irishman has posted a win in the Portugal Masters and a fifth in the BMW Masters in his last four starts so we can forgive him the MC in Singapore last time. Lowry also finished eighth here on debut last year and was fourth in the 2010 Abu Dhabi Golf Championship so he has some strong credentials.
Peter Hanson is playing the best golf of his career and can follow in the footsteps of Swedish compatriot Robert Karlsson, who won this event in 2010.
Hanson was fourth last year after opening with a 64, ninth on debut in 2009 and also a creditable 13th in 2010 after recovering from an opening 76.
After holding off Rory McIlroy in the last round of the BMW Masters in China recently, his confidence his sky-high and he's well worth a punt to make it three wins from his last six starts.
Francesco Molinari strikes me as someone who has a huge performance in him soon and this looks an ideal venue.
He's been sixth in each of the last two years and, aside from Sergio Garcia, Molinari is the biggest priced of the eight players who average under 70 in their last 12 rounds on this course.
Back "Blackbeard" each-way at 25s and hope his putter is on. If it is, he has a golden chance.
Peter Hanson each-way at 18/1
Francesco Molinari each-way at 25/1