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BlogOmega Dubai Desert Classic Preview and Picks

Omega Dubai Desert Classic

January 30 – February 2, 2014

Emirates G.C.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,316

Purse: $3.19 Million

with $390,132 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Stephen Gallacher

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

 

The field includes 11 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with three top-10 in the field: #1 Tiger Woods, #3 Henrik Stenson and #6 Rory McIlroy. The other top-50 in the field are #24 Thomas Bjorn, #25 Jamie Donaldson, #28 Ernie Els, #38 Miguel Angel Jimenez, #41 Joost Luiten, #43 Francesco Molinari, #45 Branden Grace and #47 Matteo Manassero.

The field includes 17 of the Top-25 on the Race to Dubai standings for 2014.  Those players are #1 Thomas Bjorn, #5 Jamie Donaldson, #6 Branden Grace, #7 Pablo Larrazabal, #8 Joost Luiten, #9 Morten Orum Madsen, #10 Dawie Van Der Walt, #11 Henrik Stenson, #12 Mikko Ilonen, #13 Miguel A. Jimenez, #15 Tommy Fleetwood, #16 Rafa Cabrera-Bello, #19 Darren Fichardt, #21 Romain Wattel, #22 Rory McIlroy, #23 Thongchai Jaidee and #25 Hennie Otto, .

The field includes 18 of the 21 past champions: Stephen Gallacher – 2013, Rafa Cabrera-Bello – 2012, Alvaro Quiro – 2011, Miguel Angel Jimenez – 2010, Rory McIlroy – 2009, Tiger Woods – 2008 & ’06, Henrik Stenson – 2007, Ernie Els – 2005, ’02 & 1994, Mark O’Meara – 2004, Robert-Jan Derksen – 2003, Thomas Bjorn – 2001, Jose Coceres – 2000, David Howell – 1999, Jose Maria Olazabal – 1998, Richard Green – 1997, Colin Montgomerie 1996, Fred Couples 1995 and Wayne Westner – 1993.  Event went through a lot of trouble on it’s 25th anniversary to get every past champion.  Even in the case of Seve Ballesteros, they gave a invitation to his son Javier to play.

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic field is our performance chart listed by average finish. One last way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Here is our video preview and picks of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic:

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Player Qatar Masters Farmers Insurance Abu Dhabi Humana Challenge Volvo Golf Sony Open Hyundai T of C Nelson Mandela Nedbank Challenge Hong Kong Alfred Dunhill South African HSBC Champions
Branden Grace
(170.67 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
T20
(10)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(170 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Joost Luiten
(161.33 pts)
DNP DNP 6
(60)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(131.67 pts)
75
(0)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
Mikko Ilonen
(130.67 pts)
2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
Johan Carlsson
(122.33 pts)
T16
(34)
DNP 7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
T37
(4.33)
T7
(18.33)
DNP
Pablo Larrazabal
(122 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(120 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(20)
Thomas Bjorn
(117.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
Miguel A. Jimenez
(109 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP 72
(0)
Dawie Van der walt
(108 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP 71
(0)
DNP 33
(17)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
24
(8.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Darren Fichardt
(103 pts)
T16
(34)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP 35
(15)
DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T37
(4.33)
T61
(0)
Alejandro Canizares
(100 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP T49
(1)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 23
(9)
6
(20)
DNP
Romain Wattel
(97.33 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP T45
(5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 4
(26.67)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Stephen Gallacher
(93 pts)
T28
(22)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T63
(0)
Thorbjorn Olesen
(90 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Jamie Donaldson
(87 pts)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Hennie Otto
(86 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
T2
(33.33)
DNP
Matthew Baldwin
(85.67 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Steve Webster
(82 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
T24
(8.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Morten Orum Madsen
(80.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
Win
(44)
DNP
Matteo Manassero
(78 pts)
DNP DNP T31
(19)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
Peter Hanson
(77.67 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
Thongchai Jaidee
(73.33 pts)
T33
(17)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 9
(15)
DNP DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
Raphael Jacquelin
(73 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T37
(13)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 73
(0)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Player Qatar Masters Farmers Insurance Abu Dhabi Humana Challenge Volvo Golf Sony Open Hyundai T of C Nelson Mandela Nedbank Challenge Hong Kong Alfred Dunhill South African HSBC Champions
Joachim B Hansen
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Peter Lawrie
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Adrian Otaegui
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
John Parry
(-21.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T44
(2)
DNP DNP
Graeme Storm
(-21.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T44
(2)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Shane Lowry
(-20 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(-20 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Richard Green
(-20 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Justin Walters
(-18.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DQ
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T62
(0)
T52
(0)
DNP
Niclas Fasth
(-16.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(7)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

* A great win for Sergio Garcia shooting a final round 65, the best of the day then beating Mikko Ilonen in a playoff to win the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.  For Garcia who won the Thailand Golf Championship in December it’s gives us reason to believe that the kid has finally grown up at 34.  He is one of these hidden talents that we have admired for close to 16 years now that never really achieved what many thought he would.  Who knows if it’s because he came so close in the era in which Tiger Woods dominated, but Sergio is better than his record shows.  Garcia is a nature shotmaker but has two problems, his putting sometimes is suspect and he rarely makes that great putt when he needs it the most.  Another problem is between the ears, Garcia spends way to much time overanalyzing things and his emotions get in his way.  When he won the 2008 Players Championship at the age of 28 we all thought it would be a pivotal moment for him but it wasn’t.  Later on that year he lost the PGA Championship to Padraig Harrington, who also beat him in the 2007 British Open in a playoff and after 2008 Garcia went into a dive.  He did show signs of coming back at the end of 2011, but he became very inconsistent.  He had a lot of chances of winning in 2013 but always found a way to blow a gasket in the final round.  So we are all hoping that maybe, just maybe he could muster up some of that magic we thought he had way back in 1999.  At 34 Garcia is coming into what should be the prime of his golfing career, it would be a shame if he was never to win a major or play a vital role in golf.  As for his future play, he is taking a month off and will return to play the Match Play and the Honda Classic.

* This week’s Dubai Desert Classic has a good field with Tiger and Rory playing but as it celebrates it’s 25th birthday it’s not the mega event it use to be.  As great of a city as Dubai is, it doesn’t have the same money that Abu Dhabi has and in a sense that event has taken some of the luster of this event.  It’s interesting to note that some of the marquee guys that have played this event in the past, names like Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and even Martin Kaymer don’t bother to play Dubai anymore.  I don’t know if it’s a money issue, that they can’t get paid to play so they don’t or if maybe it’s more important to go off and play in America like Westwood and Kaymer are doing playing in the Phoenix Open.  With both Tiger and Rory playing it doesn’t shine that light on others that aren’t here, but we have seen an exodus of top names the last five years.

* The talk and buzz in Dubai is first how poorly Tiger played in San Diego on a course that he dominated.  He traveled to Florida and then went on to Dubai arriving on Monday night.  I’ve been told that Woods was his usual cordial self playing in the events Former Champions Challenge but didn’t spend much time with reporters, brushing off the third round 79 as being “a train that he couldn’t get off”.  In a way his 79 is showing that he may be a very good player, but can’t control his game all the time like he did between 1999 and 2003, then again between 2005 and 2008.  Good luck in making a decision on him and the state of his game, in a way he has become a big Jeckel and Hyde, you never know which Tiger Woods will show up.  When Tiger does show up on Thursday he will be paired the first two rounds with Rory McIlroy, whose game is showing signs of shining.  It will be interesting to see if the pairing will spur the two into a great two days of golf, or if it turns into an awkward time which sometimes happens when pairing two stars together.  I chose to think it’s going to be good theater and both have something to prove.

Course Information 

  • Played at the Emirates Golf Club
  • Doha, Qatar – Par:  72 / Yardage: 7,316

Emirates Golf Club, not only hosts the Omega Dubai Desert Classic but also the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters in December.  It was the first all grass championship golf course in the Middle East when it opened in 1988. The club is part of a 54 hole facility with the Faldo Course and the Creek course, which held this tournament in 1999 and 2000.

The Emirates course was designed by Florida architect Karl Litten and lie amongst a plethora of sand dunes, on a site originally donated by Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum, on whose instructions was that the desert flora was maintained in its natural state. Within a year of opening, the newly christened Majlis hosted the inaugural Dubai Desert Classic in February 1989.  The sprinklers on the Majlis course keep the Bermuda grass growing, alongside the indigenous desert flora, giving a picturesque contrast. The lush fairways and large greens provide a formidable test of golf, guaranteeing a magnificent finish on the 18th hole, a long dog-leg, which has seen as many inspirational finishes as watery disasters in its 19 year history.  Other course highlights include the par three 7th and the gruelling par four 8th.

There are 5 lakes dotted around the course with water coming into play on seven holes.  There are only 41 bunkers on the course but something a bit unique, five greens with no bunkers guarding them.  There isn’t that much rough but if you hit it off the fairway you could find yourself in desert scrub which is sometimes harder to hit out of than rough.  The course is always in great shape and in a way follow the same creed as Augusta National in which the staff works hard to maintain this course in a manner that many feel it’s always the best manicured course on the European Tour.

Just like last week the key to playing the course is to have windless conditions.  If by chance the area is hit by the Shamal winds it makes the course very tough, but this event has never suffered any weather problems like Qatar has experienced.  In looking at the weather forecast, there is zero percent chance of rain with temperatures in the mid 70s, with the wind blowing between 10 and 15 mph.

Golf’s DL injury report:

Nothing to speak of

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic:

Key stat for the winner:

What is the key stat that helps players win in Dubai?  Seems that hitting lot’s of greens is very important.  Of the five winners going back to 2009 all of them were in the top-15 with Rafael Cabrera-Bello leading that stat in 2012 while Stephen Gallacher was 12th in his 2013 victory.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • The Dubal Desert Classic has been known as a tournament that produces low scores as the winner has had an average score of just under 16 under par.  Again watch the winds, that has a lot to do with the scoring.
  • You can’t call this course a long hitters paradise.  Yes Alvaro Quiros won in 2011 averaging the best of those in the field but since then the winners have been in the middle in hitting it long.  Also hitting fairways is not very important and only one winner in the last five years has been in the top-25 of this stat.
  • Mastering the par 5s is the key this week, last year’s winner Stephen Gallacher may of only been 7 under but in 2009 Rory McIlory played them in 12 under.
  • The only way that a winner goes over par in any single round is because of the wind.  Henrik Stenson in 2007 was the last player to shot all four rounds in the 60s but only 3 champions (Alvaro Quiros 73, 1st rd in 2011, Tiger Woods 73, 3rd rd in 2008 and Jose Coceres 73, 4th round in 2000) have had a single round over par and that was on a day of high winds.
  • In the history of this event there has only been one true gun that seems to play great every time he tees it up in Dubai and that is Ernie Els.  Between 19993 and 2008 he played the Dubai Classic 11 times never finishing higher than 8th, winning it three times, finishing runner-up three times and 3rd twice.  For some odd reason this great streak ended in 2009 when he missed the cut and hasn’t been back to this event since.  So it will be interesting to see how he plays this week.

Who to watch for at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T5 T10 T6 Win CUT T52 CUT

This kid is going to have a great year, this is the site of his first win back in 2009, look for him to win this again.

Rafael Cabrear-Bello

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Was high up on my list of players to win last week, again I on my list because he is playing great golf right now and coming to a course he has done well on.

Ernie Els

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T3 2 2 Win T3 2 Win

Think he will surprise everyone with a great week, he has the best record on this course than anyone else.

Best of the rest:

Tiger Woods

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T20 Win T3 Win T5

He has won it twice, but which Tiger Woods will play this week, the one that has won twice in Dubai or the one that shot 79 on Saturday at Torrey Pines. Think he will play ok, but won’t contend, will be overpowered playing with McIlroy.

Stephen Gallacher

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
Win T2 T10 T31 CUT T44 T44 T22 T51 T34 T38 CUT

Normally not a fan of defending champions but he not only plays well in this event but has played good in 2014.

Alvaro Quiros

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T37 Win T6 T13 CUT T59

Has a good record in this event with a victory in 2012, always has the length and if the rest of his game shines will contend.

Thorbjorn Olesen

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T3 T42 CUT

Watch him, has a good record in this event and finished T3rd last week in Qatar. He is our sleeper pick of the week.

Solid contenders

Henrik Stenson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T26 T20 CUT T8 3 T6 Win T7 T22 T45 T71 CUT

Hasn’t shown us much in 2014 but he can snap out of it at anytime.

Thomas Bjorn

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T9 CUT T15 CUT T44 T10 T47 T22 CUT T6 T20

The same with him, a bit caught off guard with him missing the cut in Qatar but he can bounce back and do well this week.

Ross Fisher

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T66 T10 T11 T13 T10 5

Game still a bit inconsistent but working hard to gain control of that.

Mikko Ilonen

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T52 CUT CUT T24 T44 CUT T68 T45 T6

Almost won last week, can he keep those good vibes together to play week in the desert of Dubai.

Long shots that could come through:

Joost Luiten

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T33 CUT CUT

Watch him this week, yes doesn’t have much of a record in this event but has top-tens in his last two starts.

Scott Jamieson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T26 T5

Two good finishes under his belt in Dubai.

Chris Wood

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T30 T20 T10 T20 CUT

Does have the game for this course, question if he can get it together for 72 holes.