McIlroy the favourite in Dubai

Unsurprisingly, the bookies have made World No 1 Rory McIlroy the favourite for this week’s Dubai Desert Classic.

The tournament attracts the top golfers from around the world every year and this week is no exception, with McIlroy set to be joined by a host of big name talents, including Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher.

Gallacher surprised players and fans alike when he became the first player in the event’s 25-year history to successfully defend his title in 2014. However, the Scotsman has only been made a 22/1 favourite with Paddy Power to make it three in a row.

Gallacher had a sterling year in 2014, kicking it off with his third win on the European Tour in Dubai. He was then picked as a wild card for captain Paul McGinley’s European Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles, where he helped them retain the historic trophy. As a result, he improved his world ranking from 66 to 35 over the course of the season.

Henrik Stenson is also one to watch out for on the final day. The Swede last won the event back in 2007, but always enjoys playing in the desert. He also earned career bests in the majors last season, tying for fourth at the US Open and third in the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer will be trying to forget his blunder at the recent Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. The German threw away a ten-stroke lead during the final round and to finish a disappointing third.

Nevertheless, the world number 12 earned two wins in 2014, the most important being his second major victory at the US Open at Pinehurst, and should be a threat over the weekend.

Ernie Els could be considered a dark horse for the Dubai Desert Classic, as he’s won there on three occasions. The South African’s last professional victory was at the 2013 BMW International Open, but with four top-10 finishes since, including a tied seventh at the PGA Championship, it might be his time again.

Rory McIlroy, however, remains the favourite for weekend. Last year’s double major-winning heroics were followed up with an impressive second in Abu Dhabi a little over a week ago, and the 25-year-old looks up for the challenge in the new year.

To bet on 3/1 favourite McIlroy, or on any of your other picks, make sure to head on over to Paddy Power.