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Dubai betting preview
By Dave Tindall Last updated: 8th February 2011
Winning machine Martin Kaymer can put another '1' on the board at this week's Dubai Desert Classic, says Dave Tindall.
On all the evidence so far, backing Martin Kaymer in the Middle East seems a straightforward task.
You do back him in Abu Dhabi. His eight-shot win a couple of weeks ago means he's had two wins and a second place in the last three years.
You don't back him in Qatar. His form figures there now read 28-32-31-MC after he never contended again last week.
You do back him in this week's Dubai Desert Classic. He hasn't won it but has finished second and fourth twice in three attempts.
Kaymer, always an honest speaker, isn't surprised by the contrast in fortunes.
He positively raves about the course in Abu Dhabi but in Qatar he reiterated last week: "The greens are not my friend here." And when asked if he was starting to feel more comfortable on the course, he responded: "Not really, to be honest. I really struggle here. I don't know why. I play good golf but I can't score."
As for the Emirates Course - the 7,301 yard par 72 he faces this week - Kaymer said after his closing 71 in Qatar: "I like to play that golf course and if I can give myself a chance again, I have the possibility to win again .
"I know that I'm playing well and my putting feels good, too. So it's all about next week, now."
Kaymer has turned himself into a winning machine and four victories in his last nine European Tour starts (that includes the 2010 USPGA) means he's reaching Tiger Woods like levels.
"He's killing us," said Retief Goosen after watching Kaymer destroy the field in Abu Dhabi - a quote usually reserved for Woods.
Kaymer moved above Tiger in the world rankings after his Abu Dhabi win and we get the chance to compare the two this week with Woods making his usual trip to Dubai.
At the moment, there appears a huge gulf between the pair with Woods finishing an out of contention 44th in his first start of the season. The significance of that performance was that it came on a course, Torrey Pines, which Tiger has ruled like no other (he'd won his last five starts there including the 2008 US Open).
So despite Woods boasting two wins here in Dubai (2006 and 2008), I'm simply not having it that he should be shorter in the betting than Kaymer with some bookies (most make Kaymer favourite)
Woods is still struggling to take his swing changes from the practice ground into tournament play and he just doesn't have the same fear factor anymore.
I expect him to post a decent finish but clearly he is a work in progress.
Kaymer's 'secret' - that he wins way more than the likes of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood - is out so his prices are starting to become more Tiger-like (old Tiger-like that is).
The 11/2 is deserved and we'll have a decent win bet.
McIlroy, who won his only European Tour title here, has an obvious chance and it wouldn't surprise me to see him emerge as Kaymer's closest rival but the 7/1 looks tight given his lack of wins.
But I will put a Northern Irishman in the staking plan - Gareth Maybin.
The 30-year-old was last seen finishing fifth in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago and at the back of end of 2010 Maybin and fellow Ulsterman, US Open champ Graeme McDowell, pulled four clear going into the final round at Valderrrama.
There was only going to be one winner that day given that McDowell could do no wrong in 2010 but Maybin's tied second place finish was a further sign of his talent and potential.
Last year Maybin missed the cut in Abu Dhabi but came to Dubai and finished in the top 20.
With some strong recent performances under his belt he looks well equipped to really step up on that top 20 and maybe even contend for the title.
Take the 100/1 each-way.
The list of past winners and top finishers here is always crammed with players who have excelled in The Open.
The link isn't obvious but backing strong Open players is definitely a decent strategy to put into play and, if that's the case, how about backing Chris Wood at 90/1.
The Englishman has made his name in The Open with top five finishes in both 2008 and 2009 and seems to thrive in big events as shown by him taking a two-shot lead going into the final round of the European Tour's flagship event - the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth - last year.
He stumbled on the final day on that occasion but he'll be all the better for it and his final day performances in his two Open top fives show he has bottle.
Wood kicked off 2011 by finishing runner-up to Louis Oosthuizen (another Open champ who has a good record in this event) in the Africa Open and added a top 25 in Abu Dhabi.
A missed cut in Qatar shouldn't really concern us as he isn't the most consistent golfer on the planet and in his column that appears on skysports.com he'll often reveal after a good performance that his expectations going into it weren't high.
One little bonus for this week is that Wood has made Dubai his base for the early part of 2011 so is nicely acclimatised.
And with the wind set to blow on the weekend, especially Saturday, he could get the conditions he relishes and which others shy away from.
Take him at 90/1.
Kaymer, incidentally, was seventh in last year's Open and won the Alfred Dunhill Links at St Andrews in October so he too has strong links links.
Finally, I'll have an each-way punt on Edoardo Molinari at 30/1.
After his stellar 2010 which saw him win twice and play in the Ryder Cup with his brother, Edoardo says he wants to keep pressing hard in 2011 and he showed that with a top 10 finish in the Volvo Golf Champions on his last start.
The Italian started his second round 65 with six straight birdies to go into the weekend tied for the lead and although he couldn't keep up the momentum over the weekend he's a proven closer of tournaments.
With his brother Francesco capturing the HSBC Champions in Shanghai at the back end of 2010, Edoardo will feel like it's his turn to beat a world-class field and the signs look encouraging.
He made his debut in this event last year and finished an excellent tied fourth, just two shots out of the play-off.
"It was a huge field, one of the best fields of the year, and to finish Top-5 in a week like this, it's great for your confidence and for The Race to Dubai, as well," he said after that performance.
Tee to green he was awesome that week, finishing some way clear in the greens in regulation stats (84%), but his putting let him down and made the difference.
If he can just hole a few more, he has the potential to win and spark even more family celebrations after brother Francesco (who will now miss this event) became a father to a new baby boy at the weekend.
5pts win Martin Kaymer at 11/2 (Stan James, bodog). When he likes a course watch out! Deserved favourite and can win yet again.
1.5pts e.w. Edoardo Molinari at 30/1 (totesport, Stan James 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Excellent debut here in 2010 when well clear in GIR stats. 8th in Bahrain last time.
0.75pts e.w. Gareth Maybin at 100/1 (totesport, Boylesports, Betfred 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Fifth in Abu Dhabi, T2 at Valderrama at end of 2010 and decent show here last year.
0.75pts e.w. Chris Wood at 90/1 (Stan James, bodog 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Runner-up in the Africa Open and can continue great record of top links players here.
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