Tuesday, 23 January 2018
Sergio Garcia during the Omega Dubai Desert Classic  (Getty Images)
Sergio Garcia during the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (Getty Images)

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  • Sergio Garcia at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic
  • Sergio Garcia during the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

The best players on the European Tour gather in Dubai this week for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Emirates Golf Club plays host to the 29th edition of the event, with the famous Dubai skyline as the backdrop for one of the Tour's most coveted titles.

A shade under 7,400 yards, the course certainly favours big hitters with the top five finishers each year since 2003 averaging seven yards longer than the field average. There are plenty of doglegs and reachable par fives for those that can carry their tee shots 300 yards or longer. The large, fast greens have historically limited the effectiveness of good putting, with Putts per GIR playing a limited role in the success of players historically at Emirates Golf Club. When it comes to your Fantasy Race to Dubai team, numbers suggest going with players who hit it long and hit a lot of greens might be a good idea.

Favourite: Sergio Garcia

Defending champion, reigning Masters champion, champion last week, it's easy to see why many will fancy Sergio Garcia to repeat his heroics of last year again this week. In eight appearances at this event, the Spaniard has five top 20 finishes including his win last year. Garcia's strengths are massively suited to Emirates GC. Twelve months ago he finished in the top three in Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation as he went on to win by three shots. His scoring average of 69.9 at this event is 1.7 shots better than the field average and with the form he showed last week in Singapore, the only decision to make in regards to your Fantasy team should be "is he captain or not?".

Form Horse: Rafa Cabrera Bello

Rafa Cabrera Bello has often spoke about his love for this event. A Dubai-resident for much of the year, the Spaniard won the title back in 2012 by one shot over Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher, with a fine, bogey-free final round 68 in challenging conditions. The 33 year old is 27 under par for his last eight rounds here, having finished runner-up two years ago and tied 11th this time last year. In 28 rounds at Emirates Golf Club, Rafa has dropped an average of just 1.8 shots per round, second only to Andy Sullivan. Known as one of the best tee-to-green players in the game, the course suits his eye and with four top 15 finishes in his last seven starts, he appears ready to win again. Interestingly, he is one of only two players to have hit all 14 fairways in one round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, having done so in the final round back in 2014.

Wildcard: George Coetzee

Having returned to the European Tour circuit in great shape having put in some serious work in the off-season, George Coetzee returns to Dubai with reason to be confident ahead of his fifth appearance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Twice in the top ten here, Coetzee has broken par in 12 of his 14 rounds at Emirates GC and his scoring average of 69.6 is bettered only by McIlroy, Stenson and Sullivan. The South African is blessed with the rare blend of distance off the tee and a nice touch around the greens, proven by the fact he was one of only four players in 2017 to rank in the top 25 in both Driving Distance and Putts per GIR. Coetzee started his 2018 season with a top ten at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and will be keen to jump start the rest of his season with a strong showing at a familiar venue this week in Dubai.

Those are our picks for this week, now it's time to make yours. Click here to select your Fantasy Race to Dubai team and make sure you do so before the first round kicks off early Thursday morning.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LI, HaotongCHN18-23
2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-22
3HATTON, TyrrellENG18-20
4LEVY, AlexanderFRA18-19
5PAISLEY, ChrisENG18-17
T6RAMSAY, RichieSCO18-16

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