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Our season finale is finally here! The top-60 in the Race to Dubai head to the DP World Tour Championship. We obviously have a star-studded field here, including Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, and Rafa Cabrera-Bello. This is a very unique, desert-style course, and we have some specialists we can target.

This track is a Greg Norman design, measuring over 7,600 yards. Immediately, we think that it suits the bombers, and past history has shown that. The previous four events have been won by Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Henrik Stenson, and Rory McIlroy. Sense a pattern? Scores typically threaten to reach -20, so we are going to target birdie-makers. The greens have runoffs in most places, so putting and scrambling skills will be helpful. I’m targeting bombers, excellent putters, and players who have strong form at desert courses. We have plenty of course history to draw upon, but events held here have a very small field. Also important: this is a no-cut event, so every player will get four rounds. This usually points us towards a stars-and-scrubs roster construction full of birdie makers.

 

Key Stats:

  • Driving Distance
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Birdie or Better %
  • Putting Average

 

Let’s take a look at my favorite European Tour players this week:

 

Rory McIlroy ($12,500) – Here’s Rory’s record at this event the past seven years: 1st, 2nd, 5th, 1st, 11th, 5th, and 3rd. If you can afford him, Rory needs to be in all lineups this week. It’s a bomber’s paradise, and we all know how that suits Rory. He dominates par-5s, is the best birdie-making machine on the planet, and it would be cool to be the first player to win the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same season (although he’s stated that it’s not his “top” goal). Although we haven’t seen much of Rory this month, he showed that the equipment change hasn’t affected him much, posting a 4th place finish at the WGC-HSBC in China.

Henrik Stenson ($11,600) – Not quite the course history that Rory has, but Stenson is another two-time winner at this venue. He leads the Race to Dubai and definitely has prioritized that title, playing last week in South Africa. He struggled mightily on Friday last week, but still managed to finish 8th by week’s end. Most of that was thanks to his excellent ball-striking, which led him to lead the field in greens in regulation. This has felt like Stenson’s year, although fellow Swede Alexander Noren has thrust himself into player of the year consideration.

Sergio Garcia ($8,700) – Sergio always seems to go overlooked, but these desert events are right up his alley. Dubai, Qatar… I’m always reminded to play Sergio. He’s finished inside the top-12 here five out of six tries, and has shown the ability to fire low rounds in Dubai. After winning on the PGA Tour last summer, Sergio has been on a solid run of top-10s, including at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. That performance was thanks to his elite greens in regulation numbers.

Louis Oosthuizen ($8,600) – Just when you forget about Louis, he pops up with a top-10 and shows the ball-striking ability that has nearly won him three majors. That 9th place finish should have been better, but he collapsed late Sunday while he was sitting in 2nd place. Oosty was 3rd in the all-around ranking last week, which is a really positive sign heading into the season finale. He comes back to Dubai where he’s posted three top-6 finishes in his career, and I expect him to contend again this week.

Thomas Pieters ($8,200) – Pieters only managed a 22nd here last season, but he made a ton of birdies, showing his upside for our fantasy golf purposes. If he clicks, he can definitely win, and he’s had success in the desert (two top-4 finishes at Abu Dhabi). As we saw at the Ryder Cup, he bombs it off the tee and can make putts. That’s the formula that could carry him to another title this week.

Thorbjorn Olesen ($7,900) – Olesen sits inside the top-10 in the Race to Dubai thanks to a recent win at the Turkish Airlines Open. Although he was pretty poor last week in South Africa, he has a history of dropping form after a win, and then finding it out of nowhere. He’s had five solid performances here in the top-15 range, and recorded an 8th place finish in Dubai earlier this year. Olesen fits the mold of a bomber and desert specialist I am targeting this week.

Victor Dubuisson ($7,600) – Dubuisson has now made over 90% of his 2016 money at the Nedbank Golf Challenge (since it was played twice this season). He finished 3rd last week, but it was more impressive that he led the field in the all-around statistic. He’s a dynamic player and scrambler when he’s on, but Dubuisson has basically been asleep at the wheel all season. He finally comes back to a place that he loves: he’s finished 2nd, 3rd, and 13th the past three seasons. Also important to note that Dubuisson had his biggest performance in the US at the WGC-Dell Match Play, also played on a desert course. He flashed some insane scrambling abilities during his run to the championship match.

Renato Paratore ($7,300) – I’ve been on Paratore all season, and he hasn’t disappointed too many times. He’s coming off back to back top-25s in the Race to Dubai playoffs, and now makes his first start at the finale. His record in the Dubai Desert Classic is solid, where he’s finished 13th and 26th in two attempts. I love the young Italian’s upside this week, since he’s guaranteed four rounds. He can make birdies in bunches.

Alejandro Canizares ($7,000) – Canizares is a other player that I’ve had a ton of success with this week, including last week at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. He finished 3rd, which was his third top-10 finish in his last eight starts. Prior to that, Canizares posted finishes of 31st and 22nd, showing that upward trend we love to see. In his last two starts here in Dubai, he’s finished 22nd and 14th, showing that he can contend in a stacked field. Although he sometimes struggles with the ball-striking, Canizares is a dynamic putter and scrambler, which should help this week.

Pablo Larrazabal ($6,900) – Although I never seem to get him on the right weeks, I like Pablo’s upside here in Dubai. He’s won the Abu Dhabi previously, and has a solid record here: 26th, 16th, 26th, 36th, and 10th. Larrazabal popped up with an 8th place finish at the Turkish Airlines Open, so the form isn’t far away. For a cheap price, he’s a good bet to reach value in a no-cut event.

 

 

Good luck this week!

 

Ryan

 

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