Farmers Insurance Open and Dubai Desert Classic In-Play Tips

19:35 – January 28, 2021

The morning starters had the better of the conditions on day one of the Dubai Desert Classic, and they averaged 0.81 of a stroke less than those that teed it up after lunch but two of the latter starters sit atop of the leaderboard after round one. Here’s the 18-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 19:30.

Richard Sterne -8 14.5
Kurt Kitayama -7 14.013/1
Sergio Garcia -6 7.413/2
Justin Harding -6 32.031/1
Paul Casey -5 9.417/2
Robert McIntyre -5 14.013/1
Thomas Detry -5 25.024/1
Adrian Otaegui -5 46.045/1
Tommy Fleetwood -4 10.09/1
-4 and 32.031/1 bar

It was no real surprise to see Richard Sterne start well today. In the four years between 2011 and 2014 he ended day one inside the top-four places and after a 62 in 2013 he held a one-stroke lead – as he does tonight.

With first round form figures for those four years reading 4-4-1-3, his final finishing positions were very disappointing, reading 59-37-2-54. By a very wide margin, 2013 was the closest he came to winning when he and Stephen Gallacher dominated the event. Gallagher eventually prevailed by three strokes but there was a gap of seven back to Felipe Aguilar and it’s hard to fancy Sterne going one better this time around.

Although I have little faith in the leader winning this time around, as many as seven first round leaders have gone on to win this century and it’s extremely hard to come from off the pace here, and nigh on impossible unless the wind blows hard. Which it’s not predicted to do this week.

Sergio Garcia was the last man to go on to win after leading on day one when he led wire-to-wire in 2017 and the market, quite rightly, makes him favourite to go in again this year.

Garcia’s generally a 5/1 shot on the High Street and I thought 7.613/2 was more than fair.

As already mentioned, and as highlighted in more detail in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, if the wind doesn’t blow here making up ground is very difficult here so I’m more than happy to back the man in second, Kitayama, as well as Sergio.

Kitayama has been within one of the lead four times previously after the opening round on the European Tour and his finishing positions have been first, 15th, first and fourth. A poor weekend at the South African Open in 2018 saw him fall from third at halfway to 15th but on the other three occasions he’s hung in there really nicely and I thought he was too big at 15.014/1.

The 28-year-old Californian would have grown up mainly putting on bumpy unpredictable Poa Anua but his two European Tour wins, at the Mauritius Open in 2018 and at the Oman Open in 2019, were on courses laid to Bermuda and Paspalum greens so he can clearly cope with imperfection. And that sounds like it could be vital this week.

A number of players (including my pre-event pick, Matt Wallace) have been moaning about how bad the Bermuda greens are this year so I thought that was another positive for Kitayama.

The first round of the Farmers Insurance Open has just started so I’ll take a look at that one after round one tomorrow.

Dubai Desert Classic Pre-Event Selection:
Matt Wallace @ 30.029/1

In-Play Picks:
Sergio Garcia @ 7.613/2
Kurt Kitayama @ 15.014/1

Farmers Insurance Open Pre-Event Selections:
Jason Day @ 44.043/1
Marc Leishman @ 50.049/1

Find Me A 100 Winner Selections:
Dubai Desert Classic
Back George Coetzee 1 Β½ u @ 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 8.07/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back Rasmus Hojgaard 1 Β½ u @ 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 8.07/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1

Farmers Insurance Open
Back Max Homa 1 Β½ u @ 170.0169/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 10.09/1 & 8u @ 2.01/1
Max Homa Top-20 Finish 1 Β½ u @ 5/1

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