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Golf in Dubai: Favorites, Fantasy Plays and Our Pick to Win

By: Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads

It’s a Greg Norman design with expansive fairways littered with fairway bunkers and lined with sandy native area.

The European Tour enters its Middle Eastern swing on Wednesday with the Golf in Dubai Championship. While the tournament has traditionally been played on the longer Earth Course, the Fire Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates is a par 72 playing just under 7,500 yards.

Players who are especially wild off the tee could find themselves in trouble, but it looks forgiving enough that length should outperform accuracy. Jon Rahm posted a 19-under tournament to eke out a victory in last year’s event after Tommy Fleetwood put up a late charge by shooting a 65 in the final round.

With the thin desert air, the course should play even shorter than its listed yardage, and our model projects a winning score north of 20-under.

PICK TO WIN

Matt Wallace tees off during the Dubai Desert Classic in January 2020.

MATT WALLACE

It’s a top-heavy field this week, and Wallace is our pick of the lot. The four par 5s and six short par 4s should suit his game well, as those are his best types of holes. He does his best work on par 5s, where he gains 0.12 strokes over the field per par 5, and that’s while playing in tougher tournaments than most others in the field.

After adjusting for tournament strength, we expect him to gain around 0.30 strokes per par 5 – best in the field. Our model has Wallace with a 7.2% chance of winning this weekend, just better than Bernd Wiesberger.

OTHERS WHO COULD CONTEND

Danny Willett drives off the tee during the US Open on Sept. 17, 2020.

DANNY WILLETT

Like Wallace, Willett will look to take advantage of the four par 5s this weekend. His tournament adjusted baseline nets him 0.23 strokes over the field on par 5s this weekend, second only to Wallace. His biggest weakness will be the four long par 3s, where he traditionally loses strokes.

He should still gain strokes on the long par 3s in this tournament, given the weaker competition, but it will be an area he’ll have to manage.

JAZZ JANEWATTANANOND

Unlike our first two picks, Janewattananond doesn’t do his best work on par 5s. Where he does do his best work is on the long par 3s, where he’s projected to gain almost a full stroke per round over the field this weekend.

His putting has historically been poor, but he’s coming off a made cut at the Masters and a decent performance at the ZOZO Championship, both of which had significantly stronger fields than this tournament.

SEBASTIAN HEISELE

Heisele is about the only longshot we like this week, and he follows the Wallace/Willett mold of being an excellent par-5 player while holding his own on other holes. It’s a great course fit for Heisele, as he traditionally struggles on short par 3s, of which the Fire Course has none.

His length in the desert could leave him with a lot of wedges into scorable holes, and if he can roll a few in he could find himself in the hunt on Sunday Saturday.

FAVORITE DRAFTKINGS GPP PLAYS

Bernd Wiesberger ($10,800)

Martin Kaymer ($10,400)

Thomas Detry ($9,900)

Tom Lewis ($8,700)

Renato Paratore ($7,900)

Jazz Janewattananond ($7,600)

Gavin Green ($7,600)

Fabrizio Zanotti ($7,500)

Antoine Rozner ($7,500)

Haotong Li ($7,300)

Robert Rock ($7,200)

Kalle Samooja ($7,200)

Joakim Lagergren ($7,100)

Benjamin Hebert ($7,000)

Mikko Korhonen ($7,000)

Ross Fisher ($7,000)

Sebastian Heisele ($6,900)

David Horsey ($6,900)

 

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