Before getting to the other selections, a quick mention of those confidently left out on the basis of previous Dubai disappointments. Lee Westwood, who hardly got the season off to a flyer in Qatar, has never made a top-5 here in ten tries. Charl Schwartzel has never bettered 30th in five visits. And while it would hardly be a shock if Rory McIlroy played a hand, he did absolutely nothing here last year and may prefer less swift greens for now.
The key message over the last few extremely frustrating weeks has been to keep the faith with selections. Tim Clark, my ultimate gambling nemesis, won the week after letting us down in consecutive events, and Alvaro Quiros’ victory in Qatar was particularly hard to take just days after being recommended at 70/1. My dilemma is which one of last week’s disappointing selections to retain, Robert Karlsson or ROSS FISHER.
Karlsson should in theory love the Emirates. He generally tends to thrive when putting and par-5 performance is the key, and did finish 3rd here eleven years ago when nowhere near the world-beater he is today. On last year’s outstanding form, the Swede remains a big price at 20/1, but there was very little encouragement to be drawn from his closing three rounds in Qatar.
So Fisher makes the staking plan for a third week in a row, despite doing nothing to justify support in the other two. I have to stick with Ross because, rather like fellow big-hitters Kaymer and Stenson, he has given every impression that he will run up a series of high finishes on this course throughout his career. Fisher has finished 5th and 10th in the past two years, and frankly he’s improved out of all recognition since then. As far as the recent form worries are concerned, at least he played better with a 68 to close on Sunday, and it should be recognised that without those couple of disappointing efforts, Fisher would be nowhere near 35/1.