The DP World Tour resumes play after a brief three week hiatus with the inaugural edition of the Dubai Invitational.
This week’s event will be staged at Dubai Creek Resort, known for its infamous sail-shaped clubhouse.
This event is of course brand new to the DP World Tour and will be staged biannually.
What’s unique about the Dubai Invitational is that the field consists of 60 professional golfers of the DP World Tour and 60 amateur golfers.
Starting on Thursday, the professionals will play a traditional 72-hole stroke play tournament as a three-day pro-am team event runs at the same time. Sunday will see only the professionals playing.
We have a star studded field for this inaugural edition of the Dubai Invitational.
It is led by World No. 2 Rory McIlroy who loves the desert, having won five times in the middle-east in his career.
Joining him is Dubai resident Tommy Fleetwood who placed second at the DP World Tour Championship which is also played in Dubai.
Nicolai Hojgaard will also be teeing it up this week. He of course bested Fleetwood at the DP World Tour Championship this past season.
Other notable names in this week’s field include Ryan Fox, Adrian Meronk, Rasmus Hojgaard, Thorbjorn Olesen and Yannik Paul
Although this week’s event is brand new, the course is not.
The Championship Course at the Dubai Creek Resort in Dubai, UAE plays as par 71 at 7,009 yards.
This venue opened in 1993 and staged two editions of the Dubai Desert Classic (1999 and 2000.) It also staged two editions of the Dubai Creek Open on the Asian Tour in 1996 and 1997.
The fairways featured at the Dubai Creek Resort are undulating and water is constantly a factor. There are a multitude of manmade lakes along with the creek, which is featured in the venue’s name. The creek comes into play itself on four holes.
Dubai Creek Resort is carved out of the desert and the fairways are lined with palm trees.
Golfers will have to not only navigate the multitude of water hazards but a ton of bunkers as well.
The greens featured this week are described as “magnificent” and as this event lines out to be a birdie-fest, any hopeful winner will have to set themselves apart on the greens.
As most desert tracks do, it plays with a links feel. Those who have experience on links style courses will see an advantage this week.
Along with the water and bunkers, the desert wind is one of the courses’ main lines of defense. If the winds are to pick up, the course dries out and scoring becomes much harder.
This helps those who jump out to an early lead to hold their ground as over four days of golf and the course drying out, again, scoring becomes more difficult.
As of the time of writing this, winds won’t seem to be a factor this week. They are set to peak at 12 miles-per-hour on Saturday but will range between eight-and-nine miles-per-hour for Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Of course there is a zero percent chance for precipitation across all four days and temperatures will range from 75-degrees to 77-degrees. Overall, expect a low scoring affair this week.
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Birdie or Better Percentage
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT)
Greens in Regulation Percentage
Nicolai Hojgaard (+1100)
With Rory McIlroy (+275) and Tommy Fleetwood (+600) leading the charge, we get a slight premium on the defending DP World Tour Championship winner in Hojgaard. Hojgaard finished last season second on Tour in birdie or better percentage, eighth in SG: OTT, 17th in GIR%, 25th in SG: APP, 36th in bogey avoidance, 50th in SG: PUTT and 79th in scrambling. We haven’t seen Hojgaard since his victory at the DP World Tour Championship. Prior to that victory he placed second at the Nedbank Golf Challenge as well. I’m playing two units on Hojgaard this week.
Thorbjorn Olesen (+2000)
Olesen (outside of McIlroy) tops my model this week. He finished last season 12th on Tour in GIR%, 14th in both SG: APP and birdie or better percentage, 15th in bogey avoidance, 33rd in SG: PUTT, 59th in SG: OTT and 63rd in scrambling. A very good resume for this course. We last saw Olesen at the DP World Tour Championship where he placed 26th but prior to that placed third at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, T9th at the Qatar Masters, T9th at the Andalucia Masters and T17th at the Open de Espana. I’m playing one unit on him this week.
Yannik Paul (+2500)
If you’ve noticed by now, these types of events are front-runner favored so my card doesn’t go very deep this week. Next up is Yannik Paul who we also last saw at the DP World Tour Championship where he placed T27th. Prior to that he placed T15th at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. He finished last season third on Tour in SG: APP, tenth in both GIR% and bogey avoidance, 26th in scrambling, 39th in birdie or better percentage, 64th in SG: PUTT and 67th in SG: OTT. I’m playing a unit on him.
Ewen Ferguson (+4500)
Ewen Ferguson at +4500 is as deep as my card gets this week. He finished last season sixth on Tour in SG: APP, ninth in GIR%, 14th in bogey avoidance, 49th in birdie or better percentage, 58th in scrambling, 70th in SG: PUTT and 73rd in SG: OTT. He’s had a tough go of things to start this season with a withdrawal from the Alfred Dunhill Championship and a T111th at the South African Open but finished last season with a T9th at the DP World Tour Championship. He also placed T16th at the Qatar Masters. I’m playing a unit on him.