The DP World Tour remains in the Middle-East for a brand-new event in the Bahrain Championship.
After spending two weeks in Dubai and last week in Ras Al Khaimah, the Tour returns to the Kingdom of Bahrain for the first time in 13 years for the inaugural playing of the Bahrain Championship
After an impressive showing at last week’s Ras Al Khaimah Championship, Rasmus Hojgaard comes into this week as the odds-on favorite to win.
He’ll be joined by fellow Dane Thomas Bjorn and the Spanish duo of Pablo Larrazabal and Jorge Campillo this week.
Other notable names in this week’s field include Dan Bradbury, Alex Fitzpatrick, Yannik Paul and Jordan Smith.
This week’s host venue will be the Montgomerie Course, Royal Golf Club, Kingdom of Bahrain.
It plays as a Par-72 at 7,261 yards.
Although this is the inaugural playing of the Bahrain Championship, this course was used for the inaugural edition of the now defunct Volvo Golf Champions event in 2011. That event was won by Paul Casey at -20, a year after then European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie left him off the team.
Speaking of Montgomerie, he is the designer of this course as it bears his name.
This course has been carved out of the desert and features several water hazards, plenty of bunkers and generous fairways.
According to Montgomerie’s website, this course was "designed and constructed to provide a links style golf experience in the desert, with fast running fairways and open approaches into huge, firm greens which are dramatically contoured."
When played 13 years ago, this course was not well received. Most of the blame went to the ‘funky’ greens which will play their hand in an eventual winner this week.
One of hardest holes of this course when played in 2011 was the par four eighth but it played to an average of just 4.16. This goes to show how challenging, or lack thereof, this course will be this week.
The last three holes this week ranked as the third, fifth and eighth toughest holes back in 2011 as well. This can allow for some dramatics down the stretch.
Simply put, scoring will be low this week.
As of the time of writing this, there is a 45-percent chance of precipitation on Thursday. Following Thursday comes the winds. Friday currently calls for 25 miles-per-hour winds and Saturday and Sunday call for 21 miles-per-hour winds as well. This will dry the course out dramatically and make scoring tougher with each passing round. This is on top of the winds playing its factor as well. Temperatures will be at the highest on Thursday at 74 degrees before average 69-degrees across the rest of the week. In all, it appears that the weather, mainly the winds, will be a big factor this week.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Average Driving Distance
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Sand Saves Percentage
Birdie or Better Percentage
Par 4 Average Scoring
Yannik Paul (+1800)
Paul is one of those undervalued players on the DP World Tour. The German is the model of consistency and matches up very well with what we will see this week. He is currently fourth on the DP World Tour in birdie or better percentage, sixth in SG: APP, ninth in both SG: TTG and bogey avoidance, 17th in par four average scoring, 46th in SG: PUTT, 51st in average driving distance and 138th in sand saves percentage. He is dead last on Tour on the season in playing from the sand but with elite approach numbers, I’m not that concerned. If we look at his numbers, he’s had just 13 sand save attempts thus far. He doesn’t get himself in trouble often. He’s also fresh off a T4th last week and placed T8th a few weeks back at the Dubai Invitational. I’m playing two units on Paul.
Zander Lombard (+2200)
I’m going back to the Lombard well. I played him last week to the tune of a T13th at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. Beyond that he placed T16th at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, T6th at the Dubai Invitational, T25th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, T12th at the South African Open and T4th at Joburg Open. He’s currently fifth on Tour in bogey avoidance, seventh in par four average scoring, ninth in birdie or better percentage, tenth in SG: TTG, 15th in average driving distance, 24th in SG: PUTT, 45th in SG: APP and 72nd in sand saves percentage. I’m playing a unit on Lombard this week.
Frederic LaCroix (+4500)
Lacroix was my claim to fame last week as he fired off a third place finish at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. Prior to that, he placed T5th at the South African Open and T17th at the Joburg Open. In other words, he’s in some pretty good form. He’s currently second on Tour in SG: TTG, fifth in birdie or better percentage, seventh in average driving distance, tenth in SG: APP, 11th in both bogey avoidance and par four average scoring, 73rd in SG: PUTT and 83rd in sand saves percentage. As the playing field levels with these odd greens this week, anyone can catch a hot putter and I’m hoping that’s LaCroix. I’m playing a unit on him.
Darius Van Driel (+15000)
My long shot this week is Darius Van Driel. He is currently fifth on Tour in SG: APP and seventh in SG: TTG, the two most important stats for not only this week, but any golf course. He’s also 16th in birdie or better percentage, 23rd in par four average scoring, 38th in average driving distance, 59th in bogey avoidance, 83rd in sand saves percentage and 98th in SG: PUTT. Of course being a long shot he’s going to have some red flags so we can hope he gets the putter rolling this week. He’s also had some good outings to start the season, placing T4th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and T9th at the Joburg Open. He also made the cut at the South African Open. I’m playing a unit on him as well.