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A case can be argued that Tyrrell Hatton was the best player on the park in Abu Dhabi and would have won by a fair margin if only the pesky 18th which cost him a double bogey in round two and a quad in round three had been designed differently.
Indian No.1 Shubhankar Sharma’s share of second on Sunday was his best effort for a long time and while his long game was a bit scruffy, he holed almost 500ft of putts over the four days.
Garcia, sixth last year, third in 2019, winner in 2017, must go close at one of his favourite stops on Tour.
Rafa Cabrera Bello
He loves the Emirates course - winner in 2012, runner-up to Danny Willett in 2016, 11th to compatriot Garcia the following year and sixth to Haotong Li in 2018 - and it’s grand to see him returning to his best.
If Adam Scott’s putter ever matches his swing, the Aussie star will beat the lot. Tenth on Sunday on his first UAE visit for a long while, he is a double Qatar Masters champion. At 41 and almost unrecognisable with a greying beard, he is one class act.
Dubai Desert Classic Golf Betting Tips 2022
A case can be argued that Tyrrell Hatton was the best player on the park in Abu Dhabi and would have won by a fair margin if only the pesky 18th which cost him a double bogey in round two and a quad in round three had been designed differently. Hatton won’t be on Yas Links designer Kyle Phillips’ Christmas card list after labelling it “one of the worst par fives I’ve ever seen”.
Well he would say that, wouldn’t he, after dropping six shots there in two days, the nine on Saturday the highest individual score of his career. And there was no toning-down of that verdict even when he had birdied on Sunday to grab a share of sixth place behind 40/1 winner Thomas Pieters.
Even though the layout looked great on TV, Hatton wasn’t the only one less than thrilled with the new venue. When told Yas was to be the host course for the next three years, Rory McIlroy smilingly riposted: “See you in 2026 then!”
Eighty miles down the E11 to Dubai and we arrive at the less controversial Emirates club, one of the tour’s most popular and enduring outposts and a relief for punters as there’s masses of past form, 30 of the 32 Desert Classics having been decided there since Mark James won the first in 1989.
Always in immaculate condition, it this year acquires exalted Rolex Series status for the first time and with it a huge prize-money hike from $3.25m to $8m. Much the same crew that played in Abu Dhabi, with the notable additions of defending champion Paul Casey who failed by quite a margin to justify hot favouritism in the Asian Tour’s Singapore Open last week, and 2017 winner Sergio Garcia.
That will have sharpened Casey up for this 7424-yard examination which Bryson DeChambeau brought to its knees with a 24-under record show in 2019. Fortunately for this year’s field, the ‘Mad Scientist’ has other business to attend to at Torrey Pines but Hatton still has nine course winners to beat, plus those young lions Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland.
McIlroy is favourite on a course he has conquered twice, though long ago in 2009 and 2015. He has less confidence and, in my view, less hunger these days but remains a formidable adversary although his game lurches from the sublime to the ridiculous as we saw so infuriatingly on Sunday. Still, there were some good signs and away from the biting wind and undulating, hard-to-fathom greens, he will surely give it a better go.
January is Dubai’s least sun-kissed month but with a low of 60F and a high of 75F, it’s not exactly what we Brits would term cold and there should be plenty of low scores. Morikawa was the worst I’ve seen him last week, totally at odds with his putter, and while Hovland made the frame, he wasn’t great at Kapalua and he too can be beaten.
It was a bit of a surprise to see Rafa Cabrera Bello’s suspect short game hold up under the pressure of contending and that late-year victory in his homeland appears to have done wonders for his confidence, coming, as it did, after a long dry spell. He loves the Emirates course - winner in 2012, runner-up to Danny Willett in 2016, 11th to compatriot Garcia the following year and sixth to Haotong Li in 2018 - and it’s grand to see him returning to his best. He and Sergio made a good Ryder Cup partnership and there may be a role for Rafa in the next one.
Other than the fact that winning back to back is tricky unless you’re Tiger Woods, there’s no reason why the new, laid-back Pieters can’t do it again. His main rival used to be himself but you don’t win six times if you’re not a bit special and now that his putting and temperament are sorted, the Belgian will be high on the next Ryder Cup captain’s shopping list. Who knows, his victory might even inspire younger compatriot Thomas Detry to deliver a long-overdue first success?
Although Emirates and Yas Links have little but the desert in common, the value of current and UAE form cannot be overstressed. Indian No.1 Shubhankar Sharma’s share of second on Sunday was his best effort for a long time and while his long game was a bit scruffy, he holed almost 500ft of putts over the four days.
That was considerably more footage than anyone else and in the UAE where 3.4m are Indian (or 51% of the expatriate population) this is another home game for him. The cheers for him were noticeably louder than for anyone else last week and he can again feed off that atmosphere to put in another good shift.
Garcia, sixth last year, third in 2019, winner in 2017, must go close and if Adam Scott’s putter ever matches his swing, the Aussie star will beat the lot. Tenth on Sunday on his first UAE visit for a long while, he is a double Qatar Masters champion. At 41 and almost unrecognisable with a greying beard, he is one class act.
Dubai Desert Classic Golf Betting Tips 2022
- 2pts each-way Tyrrell Hatton at 18/1 (William Hill) 8 places
- 1pt each-way Shubhankar Sharma at 100/1 (Bet365) 5 places
- 1pt each-way Sergio Garcia at 22/1 (William Hill) 8 places
- 1pt each-way Rafa Cabrera Bello at 50/1 (Bet365) 5 places
- 1pt each-way Adam Scott at 28/1 (William Hill) 8 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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