The battle for the Race to Dubai comes down to the wire in the DP World Tour Championship this week, with three players still in the running, Phil Casey writes.
Long-time leader Tommy Fleetwood looked to be cruising to the title of Europe’s number one a few weeks ago until Justin Rose won back-to-back events in China and Turkey to slash his lead.
Fleetwood took advantage of Rose’s absence from Sun City last week to almost double his advantage to 256,738 points, with Masters champion Sergio Garcia a distant third.
Garcia needs to win in Dubai to have any chance and given that his record at Jumeirah Golf Estates is nothing special, he is using new equipment for the first time and does not exactly sound motivated, it really looks to be a two-horse race.
Rose is the 6/1 favourite and with good reason given his recent form and the fact he has twice finished runner-up in the event. We also arguably made the mistake of overlooking him at 7/1 in Turkey, but again the temptation is to try to find bigger value in a small field.
The first of our DP World Tour Championship betting predictions is therefore defending champion and 16/1 chance Matt Fitzpatrick, who claimed his fourth European Tour title in Switzerland in September and has not finished outside the top 15 in six starts since.
On the face of it Fitzpatrick should not be suited by a course measuring almost 7,700 yards, but the firm fairways negate some of his lack of distance and he noticeably found a greenside bunker with a long iron on the par-five 18th in the final round last year to set up a winning birdie.
“I think the fairways are wide enough that you kind of don’t have to worry too much off the tee,” Fitzpatrick told a pre-tournament press conference.
“There’s a couple bunkers where you just play short of them anyway and you might have a 6-iron instead of a wedge or 9-iron. I think that’s just where you take your medicine on those holes, and there’s plenty others where you can score.”
Par fives will be key to scoring as usual and our second selection can normally be relied upon to take advantage of those, along with some of the long par fours.
Rafa Cabrera Bello has a best finish of ninth in this event but was leading heading into the final round in 2014 and carded a third round of 63 last year before a disappointing closing 75.
The Spaniard was a lacklustre 42nd in South Africa last week but had finished 10th, 11th and fifth in his previous three starts and can be backed at 33/1.
Finishing alongside Cabrera Bello last week was Julian Suri, but the American is available in the DP World Tour Championship betting at twice the price to continue a remarkable season which has seen him climb from 1,137th in the world at the end of 2016 to inside the top 100.
Suri has won on both the Challenge Tour and European Tour this season, ranks sixth in stroke average and was eighth in his last two starts before Sun City. An early start on Thursday may be a slight disadvantage, but at 66/1 the 26-year-old is worth chancing.
And finally, China’s Li Haotong can be backed to carry on where he left off last week, with a closing 64 giving him a share of fourth in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Li was 30th in this event last year after closing with back-to-back rounds of 69 and is available at 66/1.
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Best bets for DP World Tour Championship