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BlogDubai Classic Preview and Picks

Omega Dubai Desert Classic

February 4th – 7th, 2016

Emirates G.C.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $2.65 million

with $412,868 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Rory McIlroy

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 29 of the top 100 and 14 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with two top-10 in the field: #2 Rory McIlroy and #6 Henrik Stenson. The other top-50 in the field are #18 Louis Oosthuizen, #20 Danny Willett, #27 Byeong Hun An, #29 Thongchai Jaidee, #31 Martin Kaymer, #34 Bernd Wiesberger, #37 Andy Sullivan, #39 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, #42 Chris Wood, #44 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #48 Soren Kjeldsen and #50 Jamie Donaldson.

Last year 15 top-50 players were in the field.

The field includes 19 of the Top-25 on the Race to Dubai standings for 2016.  Those players are #1 Henrik Stenson, #3 Chris Wood, #5 Thomas Pieters, #6 Danny Willett, #7 Nathan Holman, #9 Rafa Cabrera-Bello, #10 Byeong Hun An, #11 Gregory Bourdy, #12 Brandon Stone, #13 Thorbjorn Olesen, #14 Thongchai Jaidee, #15 Haydn Porteous, #16 Louis Oosthuizen, #17 Joost Luiten, #20 Benjamin Hebert, #21 Rory McIlroy, #23 Tommy Fleetwood, #24 Andrew Johnston and #25 Bernd Wiesberger.

The field includes 9 of the 21 past champions: Rory McIlroy – 2015 & 09,Stephen Gallacher – 2014 & ’13, Rafael Cabrera-Bello – 2012, Alvaro Quiro – 2011, Miguel Angel Jimenez – 2010,  Henrik Stenson – 2007, Ernie Els – 2005, ’02 & 1994, Thomas Bjorn – 2001 and David Howell – 1999.

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.

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 Abu Dhabi Joburg Open South African Nedbank Challenge Alfred Dunhill DP World BMW Masters HSBC Champions Turkish Open Hong Kong Open Australian PGA
Byeong-Hun An
(193.67 pts)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP 8
(16.67)
DNP T4
(40)
T3
(30)
T19
(10.33)
4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(189 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(66)
DNP T11
(13)
T6
(20)
DNP DNP
Henrik Stenson
(166.33 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T59
(0)
T3
(30)
T11
(13)
DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(164.33 pts)
T2
(100)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(14)
T46
(1.33)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP DNP
Brandon Stone
(146.67 pts)
T48
(2)
T26
(24)
T28
(22)
Win
(88)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Thomas Pieters
(143.33 pts)
T52
(0)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(14)
T13
(12.33)
T23
(9)
T26
(8)
DNP DNP
Joost Luiten
(141.17 pts)
T13
(37)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T31
(9.5)
T46
(1.33)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP
Thorbjorn Olesen
(134.17 pts)
T2
(100)
T72
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(16.5)
T37
(4.33)
T19
(10.33)
T41
(3)
DNP DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(134 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP T4
(40)
T13
(12.33)
T7
(18.33)
T26
(8)
T3
(30)
DNP
Johan Carlsson
(122.67 pts)
T13
(37)
T16
(34)
T7
(55)
66
(0)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Thongchai Jaidee
(121.83 pts)
T20
(30)
T46
(4)
DNP DNP T9
(15)
DNP T31
(9.5)
T3
(30)
T11
(13)
T26
(8)
T13
(12.33)
DNP
Danny Willett
(117 pts)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP T4
(40)
T28
(7.33)
T3
(30)
T11
(13)
DNP DNP
Lee Slattery
(116.83 pts)
T4
(80)
CUT
(-10)
T53
(0)
T27
(15.33)
DNP 65
(0)
T17
(16.5)
T60
(0)
DNP 9
(15)
DNP DNP
Andrew Johnston
(116.67 pts)
T4
(80)
71
(0)
T22
(28)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP DNP DNP 10
(13.33)
DNP DNP
Marcel Siem
(115.33 pts)
T29
(21)
T5
(70)
T22
(28)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP
Anthony Wall
(115.33 pts)
DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(14)
T41
(3)
DNP 25
(8.33)
DNP DNP
Alejandro Canizares
(112.67 pts)
T27
(23)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(14)
T63
(0)
DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP DNP
Haydn Porteous
(112 pts)
T57
(0)
CUT
(-10)
Win
(132)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Trevor Fisher Jr
(111.67 pts)
T48
(2)
T16
(34)
T13
(37)
T8
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T24
(8.67)
T58
(0)
T56
(0)
DNP DNP
Kristoffer Broberg
(105.83 pts)
T20
(30)
T35
(15)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(16.5)
Win
(44)
DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(105.83 pts)
T13
(37)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP T17
(16.5)
T24
(8.67)
T17
(11)
T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP
Gregory Bourdy
(101.67 pts)
T13
(37)
T54
(0)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP 2
(33.33)
T38
(6)
T41
(3)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP
George Coetzee
(100.33 pts)
T7
(55)
T35
(15)
T13
(37)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Bradley Dredge
(95 pts)
T4
(80)
T35
(15)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Andy Sullivan
(93.67 pts)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T16
(11.33)
DNP 2
(50)
T17
(11)
T64
(0)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Qatar Masters Abu Dhabi Joburg Open South African Nedbank Challenge Alfred Dunhill DP World BMW Masters HSBC Champions Turkish Open Hong Kong Open Australian PGA
Nacho Elvira
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jin Jeong
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matteo Manassero
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Morten Orum Madsen
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T66
(0)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP
Hennie Otto
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
T45
(3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
John Parry
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Simon Dyson
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T61
(0)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Trevor Immelman
(-26.67 pts)
T52
(0)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Edouard Espana
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Robert Dinwiddie
(-25 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T35
(5)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

This event has always been one of the richest on the European Tour ever since it was first played in 1989.  Dubai is know for it’s wealth, it’s sky line is something out of a futuristic science fiction movie and you can buy just about anything know to humans, with the exception of alcohol which is scare because of religious beliefs.  Over the course of the last 26 years, this event has taken a bite on whatever west coast event is played on the PGA Tour, those that run Dubai would pay top dollar for the best players in the world.  But there is change in the air, frankly Abu Dhabi and even Qatar are doing a better job of getting better fields and for the first time in as long as anyone can remember an American isn’t playing this week.  The field is still good with 14 top-50 players but the emphasis is on getting more Europeans instead of the Tiger Woods.  Another problem that this event has is the purse is low so a lot of top European players like last week’s winner Branden Grace, Victor Dubuisson and Charl Schwartzel are taking a pass on playing.

Another sad thing, this event hasn’t gotten any marquee American players to venture over.  Of the whole field only three Americans are playing, amateur Bryson Dechambeau, European Tour member Peter Uihlein and David Lipsky so this tournament is not getting aggressive and bringing the best players over.  Frankly if Rory wasn’t playing, nobody would even know this event was around.  In the future it looks like the European Tour is going to get involved with the Australian Tour and their three main events could find a spot in the February schedule and if that’s the case, events like Dubai could become a tournament that marquee players skip.

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.  Thursday may be a problem as their could be gusts up to 25 mph so first round scores could be high.

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 seven 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 both his wins in 2013 and 2014.  Last year Rory McIlroy hit 60 of 72 greens and ranked T-5th so it’s important that the winner hits lot’s of greens.

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 16 under par.  Last year Rory McIlroy was 22 under.  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 and the same with Rory McIlroy last year but the other winners have been in the middle in hitting it long.  Also hitting fairways is not very important and only one winner in the last seven years has been in the top-25 of this stat.  Last year Rory hit only 25 fairways and ranked T-65th.
  • Mastering the par 5s is the key, last year’s winner Rory McIlroy may of only been 10 under while in 2009 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 been one true gun that seems to play great every time he tees it up in Dubai and that is Ernie Els.  Unfortunately in his last three starts he has missed the cut twice and last year finished T-55th.  So we can’t give any kind of recommendation to Els who probably will miss the cut again this year.  Between 1993 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.

But while Ernie Els has gone dormant in this event, Stephen Gallacher has excelled. Gallacher has played 15 times in this event and after finishing T4th in his first start in 2000, he only chalked up one top-25 (T22nd in 2006) between 2000 and 2010.  But things started to click for him in 2011 when he finished T10th.  After that he was T2nd in 2012 and won in 2013 & ’14 as he is 55 under in those 12 rounds.  Last year Gallacher finished 3rd as he played his four rounds in 16 under which would of won half of the past Dubai Classics.

Who to watch for at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
Win T9 T5 T10 T6 Win CUT T52 CUT

Easy choice here, he is King in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In the three different events held there (Dubai Desert Classic, DP World & Abu Dhabi in 25 starts he has won four of them, been runner-up five times and been in the top-five, 17 times. So you have to think he is the man that will rule again in the desert.

Stephen Gallacher

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
3 Win Win T2 T10 T31 CUT T44 T44 T22 T51 T34

In his last four starts won twice, runner-up and third. Over the course of those 16 rounds he is 71 under par so he is a guy that you have to worry about.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
CUT T41 T17 Win T20 CUT

Is playing great, was runner-up last week in Qatar and won Dubai in 2012 so you know he will do good again.

Best of the rest:

Thorbjorn Oleson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
First time playing in this event

Was runner-up last week, also has good finishes in Dubai so look for him.

Joost Luiten

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T47 T23 CUT T33 CUT CUT

Time for him to shine, has played well in Qatar and Abu Dhabi so look for the run to continue.

Byeong-Hun An

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T13

Was T-13 last year and played well in Abu Dhabi.

Danny Willett

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T13 T13 CUT T33 T48 CUT

Starting to get things rolling, he ended 2015 on a high and I think it will carry over to this week and a good finish.

Solid contenders

Henrik Stenson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T13 T29 T26 T20 CUT T8 3 T6 Win T7 T22 T45

Use to play well in Dubai but hasn’t played well since 2009. He had to take last week off because his body was hurting were he had surgery, so with the week off maybe he will be ready to go.

Martin Kaymer

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T4 T13 T31 T4 T4 2

Another player that we just don’t know, he has played well in the past in Dubai but his game may not be up for a good run this year.

Bernd Wiesberger

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T4 T9 T59 T24 CUT

Has played well last two starts in Dubai.

Graeme McDowell

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T9 T20 T24 5 T44 CUT

Another of those old work-horses that we can think about.

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
First time playing in this event

Long shots that could come through:

Andy Sullivan

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T4 CUT T12

Played great last year, could have another good event this year.

Thomas Pieters

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T42

One of these up and coming stars that could do well this week.

Bryson Dechambeau

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
First time playing in this event

Still an amateur but he left his mark in the first round at Qatar. Maybe he has the energy to keep it up for four rounds.

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