Both European and US tours are building up to full speed, and with it some of the stars of the game.
Europe continues its Gulf swing with the Dubai Desert Classic. Last week’s winner Tommy Fleetwood should be on a high, but his Abu Dhabi form has historically been better than this Dubai venue. We like Matthew Fitzpatrick, but you just can’t ignore the camel in the room – step forward Rory McIlroy.
Rory has not won an event since 2016, in which context odds of 9/2 would look ridiculous. The truth though is that we have not had a fit and firing Rory for some time, but at Abu Dhabi last week he looked to be very close to finding that level of form that made him clear world No1, and which would warrant a price half those odds. This course, with forgiving fairways, aids long hitters like Rory, and helps accommodate the occasionally errant drive without too much penalty. Get on.
Over in the US, all eyes will be on the next stage of the Tiger recovery, as he returns to one of his happiest stomping grounds at Torrey Pines. His 8th of 16 on his comeback at a very generously laid-out invitational event may have been a bit overblown, and much though he loves this course, it will be a much bigger test of his dubious accuracy and touch.
Jon Rahm defends and comes off the back of a win last week. This could be a stellar season for the young Spaniard who now has course experience gained from his first year on tour to add to his prodigious talent. That said it was gruelling win last week and that may be difficult to continue into this week.
We think this could finally be a big year for Ricky Fowler. Long hailed as the next big thing, he has had to handle disappointment in the Majors despite coming very close. The emergence of Spieth, Thomas and Johnson has diluted the limelight somewhat, and Ricky looked like a player destined for high rank throughout last season. He started this season nicely with a tidy 4th in Hawaii, and can further enhance his claim to world elite status by seeing off this field.
For the more adventurously minded, Irishman Seamus Power played pretty well for 11th last week and may have been overly dismissed at 200/1 with Corals paying 7 places.
Rory McIlroy, Dubai Desert Classic, 1pt win, 9/2 generally available
Ricky Fowler, Farmers Insurance Open, 1pt win, 12/1 generally available
McIlroy & Fowler, 1pt each way double, approx 70/1 (Paddy Power 1/5th top 7)
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