At the end of August Rasmus Hojgaard won his third European title in Crans. The following week Nicolai, his older twin (by a few minutes) bagged his first in Italy. Could history repeat itself in reverse with these precocious Danish 20-year-olds this week when Ras Al Khaimah again plays host to the DP World Tour at the same Al Hamra Golf Club where Nicolai posted his second victory with a stunning finish on Sunday to close the gap in this sibling rivalry to 3-2?
It’s perfectly feasible with Nicolai the 16/1 favourite and Rasmus, who was heading for a top-ten until a bad day at the office on Sunday, available at 28/1, that they could fight out the finish.
The cast list understandably resembles last week’s with the notable addition of Spanish bomber Adri Arnaus who almost hooked a bigger fish in Saudi Arabia at the weekend when first European home in third spot behind Harold Varner and Bubba Watson.
Prize money of $2m stays the same too. Only the title has changed - last week the Championship, this week the Classic and the Hojgaard twins warmed up as a pair in the nine-hole Hero Challenge scramble which preceded the main event.
At least one if not both will surely be playing in next year’s Ryder Cup in Rome as there will have to be a serious changing of the guard after last year’s record thrashing at Whistling Straits. Nicolai is the bigger and more powerful, his 315-yard average making him one of the longest on tour but Rasmus, at 308 yards, is no slouch either. Coming after missed cuts in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Nicolai was hard to pick last week even though none of the big names stayed on for Ras Al Khaimah.
Given that back-to-back winners are rare and noting the big difference in the odds, I give Rasmus the vote to make amends and turn over last week’s form, while suggesting that Chinese No.1 Haotong Li could well beat both Hojgaards.
Li started too slowly on Thursday, his 74 leaving him nine off the lead and seven behind the eventual winner, but finished like a lion with a best-of-the-week 63 to leapfrog into third place.
That confirmed what we saw in Hawaii last month when Li was right in the mix in better company at the Sony Open and looked set for something better than 12th at the 54-hole stage. Up till Waialae it looked as if Haotong’s career was on the skids but he can be followed now he’s sorted himself out.
Given a decent first round (which he did not have on his two latest outings), he may add to his two DP World Tour victories, the second one in 2018 coming not far away in the Dubai Desert Classic. This is a golfer good enough to have placed third in an Open.
Ras Al Khaimah was making its tour debut last week and 7,235-yard par 72 Al Hamra favoured one man who had been before, 2016 Challenge Tour winner Jordan Smith who couldn’t withstand Hojgaard’s hot finish after leading with a few holes to go.
Although not impressed with his resolution after hitting the front, the Englishman again holds each-way claims. That was his third good desert effort and confidence is high but 16/1 is plenty short enough.
Marginal preference is for the 25/1 about Robert MacIntyre whose 13th at the weekend was decent without revealing just how much talent this ambitious Scot has. Expect better this week from a guy who finished in the top 12 in two 2021 Majors.
Arnaus is also a course winner at the 2018 Challenge Grand Final and should contend again in this easier company provided Sunday has not left a scar as once again this perennial bridesmaid’s putting was found wanting when the winning post was in sight. If the man from Barcelona is ever to win - and he has been around long enough - this could be the one.
Equally frustrating as he too has yet to break through is Thomas Detry, a classy Belgian with seemingly an aversion to winning. No doubt his turn will come but some players are expensive to follow and he falls into that category.
Looking for outsiders, the 100/1 for another Dane Jeff Winther makes some appeal. The Majorcan winner of last October didn’t play well last week but at least he got all four rounds in and he was a fair 12th at Al Hamra in a 2017 Challenge Tour event.
More relevant probably is the good form he showed when a recent sixth in Abu Dhabi - and the spur Sunday’s victory by a fellow Dane will give him.
Frenchman Julien Brun, 13th on Sunday, and the aggressive Sebastian Garcia Rodríguez could cause a ripple too.
WM Phoenix Open Golf Betting Tips 2022
- 2pts each-way Haotong Li at 35/1 (Bet365) 5 places
- 1pt each-way Rasmus Hojgaard at 28/1 (Bet365) 5 places
- 1pt each-way Adri Arnaus at 25/1 (888Sport) 6 places
- 1pt each-way Robert MacIntyre at 25/1 (Bet365) 5 places
- 0.5pt each-way Jeff Winther at 100/1 (Bet365) 5 places
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Celebrating my 52nd year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. And, of course, putting up a 150/1 winner with Stewart Cink in my very first column for Golf Monthly. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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