The Els Club is laid out in two returning loops of nine holes and a fair amount of sand was shifted when forming this “desert links" type design which added definition to a relatively flat landscape that now features water hazards at the 7th and 15th holes.
"The Els Club combines the best of all the great clubs that I have played worldwide. The golf challenge is second to none. I am really proud of what we have achieved here. Whether you are an 18 handicap or a scratch golfer, it will be a great test of golf. This course is something very special. I think you can make a course challenging for the best players in the world but at the same time enjoyable for the rest of the world's golfers. We've done that here." Stated Ernie Els in 2008.
My tips to win:
It's hard to look past Tommy Fleetwood 5/1 – with BetVictor – who comes into this week on the back of a Top 5 finish at last week's Thailand Golf Championship. Tommy had a great run of form from August to October where he played seven tournaments and had two runners-up finishes, two other Top 5's and was only outside the Top 25 once so I expect him to be in the hunt again this week.
David Howell 20/1 – with SportingBet – is no stranger to playing in Dubai and won his first European Tour win here at the Dubai Desert Classic back in 1999. David got his career back on track in 2013 with a win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which broke a run of seven years without a lifting a trophy. I must admit I thought 2014 would see the Englishmen challenging more but so far this hasn’t happened, but what better way to head into 2015 than with a win and I expect to see Howell challenging here this week.
Prom Meesawat 28/1 – with Bet365 – currently sits in third place on the Asian tours order of merit, he was also someone I tipped last week and after a steady opening round and sitting inside the Top 20 he crashed down the leaderboard with rounds of 78, 80. He did recover with a final round 74. It's been hard to find out what the first prize is and with David Lipsky and Anirban Lahirinot competing it probably means that Prom can’t win the order of merit, but with only $75k between third and second I think Meesawat will be eyeing up that runners-up spot.
My each-way tips:
SSP Chowrasia 45/1 – with PaddyPower – won the Panasonic Indian Open just over a month ago on the Asian Tour firing a final round 66 which saw him take the title. SSP will be no stranger to European Tour followers as he has two wins on the European Tour. Chowrasia sits just outside the Top 10 on the Asian order of merit and is in forth place on the total against par stats with a score of -70 from twenty-four rounds.
Gaganjeet Bhullar 50/1 – with StanJames – has only played in five events on this years Asian Tour, but he is no stranger to winning on that tour with five wins to his name and with ten other victories he knows what it takes to be in the hunt at the back end of a tournament and I expect the lad from Amritsar, India to be in the thick of it again come Sunday.
My outside tip:
I was surprised to see Darren Clarke 80/1 – with Coral – this far down the betting odds and although the Irishman hasn’t been in the greatest of form lately he is in training and trying to get his golf game back on track so he is ready for the Champions Tour in four years time. This isn’t the strongest field this week but a win will give the lad from Dungannon, Northern Ireland a great confidence boost going into the new year.
As always good luck