Who's going to claim the 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic? Oddschecker's Tom Jacobs has four picks to be victorious
The DP World Tour‘s swing of the UAE continues this week with the Hero Dubai Desert Classic. Part of the circuit’s lucrative Rolex Series, the 2023 edition will feature some of the Europe’s biggest stars, including Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood. Keep scrolling for my 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic betting tips, but first…
Hero Dubai Desert Classic
Venue: Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, UAE
Dates: January 26-29, 2023
Course stats: Par 72; 7,353 yards
Course summary: Another exposed desert course with tree-lined Bermuda fairways and quick Bermuda greens. Players will need to negotiate with the wind, with numerous dogleg holes and water in play on 10 of the 18 holes. The rough here is often perilous, so finding the fairways and greens will be an important factor for success.
Defending champion: Viktor Hovland (-12)
Thursday: Sky Sports Golf from 4am and Sky Sports Main Event from 7:30am
Friday: Sky Sports Golf from 4am and Sky Sports Main Event from 7:30am
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf from 5am and Sky Sports Main Event from 7am
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf from 5am
2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic betting tips
The Banker: Min Woo Lee @ 22/1 with Bet365
I absolutely love Min Woo Lee’s chances once again this week, as he had every chance to win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, burning the edge of the hole on multiple occasions and losing by one.
There is nothing to suggest he cannot keep up his good form, as he ranked 6th in strokes gained approach and 5th in strokes gained tee-to-green last week, in a valiant effort at contending for a third DP World Tour title.
Lee has now finished 12th or better in seven-straight events, and although he will now have to beat McIlroy as well this week, I see him as a player that is fully capable of doing so.
The Each-Way Play: Thorbjorn Olesen @ 66/1 with Bet365
Thorbjorn Olesen was the first name I wrote down ahead of this week. He is an extremely talented player, who has won six times already on the DP World Tour, and he is not done yet!
Olesen had to take time away from the Tour for off-course issues, but since his return he is steadily working his way back to the player he once was – a player that had beaten Brooks Koepka in Turkey, a player who beat Francesco Molinari in an Italian Open, and a player that finished T6 on his Masters debut, and T9 in his second Open Championship.
Chances are those major finishes will end up being the peak major performances of his career, but at just 33-years-old, I am certain he can win multiple titles again on the DP World Tour over the next few years. The best may not still be the come, such was his impressive start to his career, but if he can even match his early efforts, it is going to be one heck of a career when it is all said and done.
Enough of the past though. Last week Olesen ranked 17th in strokes gained tee to green and 24th in strokes gained approach, whilst gaining strokes every day off the tee, ranking 8th in that strokes gained metric. That suggests he was a better short game week away from really contending, and while on paper a 20th place finish isn’t that exciting, Olesen was 11th and just three shots going into the final round, without his best stuff. There is scope for improvement, and he can find it in Dubai, where he played well in the past.
Among his last 10 starts here, Olesen has posted a 2nd, a 4th, a 6h and a 12th, all of which are mighty fine efforts and show his liking for this golf course. At 66-1, I think he’s good value to at least place here.
The Each-Way Play: Henrik Stenson @ 66/1 with Bet365
Henrik Stenson may have lost some fans in recent months, but what he hasn’t lost is his ball-striking ability, as the Swede led the field in that department last week, ranking 33rd in driving distance, 2nd in driving accuracy, and 1st in GIR. This all counted towards a 20th place finish, with bookend rounds of 68 and 66 rounding out what was a promising week.
Stenson is a former winner on this golf course, dating way back to 2007, but even over the last 15 years here, he has six top 8 finishes here, including another 2nd and 3rd, which means he knows exactly what it takes to succeed at this golf course.
If he can carry his ball striking form over to this week, I can see the Swede going very well. We have just seen this past week in Abu Dhabi what the very best veterans can still do, as Padraig Harrington finished in the top 5, and I wouldn’t put it past Stenson to do something similar here.
Asked how he felt about the Ryder Cup, Stenson essentially said he was fine watching at home, no one was treating him differently to his face, and that he’s still able to qualify by winning the Open Championship. I am not sure I believe he can win that event anymore, and I am not sure he believes it either, but it does suggest he still feels like he has something to prove, which is a bonus for us.
The Long Shot: Andy Sullivan @ 100/1 with Bet365
One of the more rogue selections this week, Andy Sullivan is about as volatile as you can get on the DP World Tour, and the Englishman could just easily be +8 thru 5 as he is -8 thru 12 when you wake up Thursday morning, but there’s something in his results recently that gives me hope.
Sullivan was poor with his irons to start the week last week, but a lot of that was probably down to two holes – where he double bogeyed both – and he bounced back throughout the week with his approaches, improving round-by-round. He eventually finished 17th without his best stuff, and that was the 11th made cut in a row, if you exclude his withdrawal at the Open de France. Include that, and you still have four made cuts in a row, three of which were top-17 finishes, and he now turns to a course that summarises his career to a tee.
In 10 starts at this golf course, Andy Sullivan has missed three cuts and been disqualified once, but in the other six appearances, he has finished inside the top 6 three times (2nd, 4th and 6th) and also finished 12th on his debut. That is just as many top 12 finishes as missed weekends here, and given his current form, it feels like the former could be a likelier result.
At this stage of his career, we are probably past the point of taking short odds on Sullivan, but at 100-1, I will chance him in a part of the world he loves.
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