Dubai Invitational 2024 Tips: Meronk the Man at 16/1

 | January 11 | 

10 mins read

Jamie DP World

After a festive hiatus, the DP World Tour is back and with it come our golf tipster Jamie Worsley's epic previews. He has taken a look at the Dubai Invitational and given you his suggested each-way selections. 

Dubai Invitational Betting Tips

  • 2.5 pts Adrian Meronk each way (1/5 - 6 Places) - 16/1 
  • 1.25 pts Jorge Campillo each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 40/1 
  • 1 pt Pablo Larrazabal each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 90/1 

The DP World Tour kicks off 2024 in familiar territory in the UAE this week. Though with the traditional starting point of the Abu Dhabi Championship now switched to the end of the year - preceding the season-ending DP World Tour Championship to form a double-header in the Arab nation to complete the season – we start the year with a new event; as a 60-man field head to Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club for the inaugural Dubai Invitational.

TOURNAMENT DETAILS

The Dubai Invitational is the first of five events in the Middle East that will begin the 2024 schedule and commences the tour’s “International Swing”.

This pro-am event will be played every two years, and sees the sixty pros and their amateur partners compete over the first two rounds, before a rejigging of teams takes place prior to round three (the top performing pro teamed with the top performing amateur and so on) to decided the outcome of the pro-am element of the event.

The pros alone then return for round four to decide where the all-important individual title will end up.

THE COURSE

Course History

Our home for the week is Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. Originally designed by Karl Litten in 1993, this course is the second-oldest in Dubai, following another of Litten’s designs, Emirates Golf Club – host of next week’s Dubai Desert Classic.

The course underwent a redesign from 2003-2007, with European Golf Design – assisted by fifteen-time DPWT winner Thomas Bjorn – doing the work and it is essentially their design that stands today.

It is not a total newcomer to the DPWT, as the previous iteration of the course hosted the 1999 and 2000 editions of the Dubai Desert Classic, won by David Howell and Jose Coceres respectively.

In more recent times it has been seen as the host of the Dubai Creek Open on the MENA Tour and in 2021, it hosted the prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship; won by former #1 amateur, Keita Nakajima of Japan.

Course Details

Dubai Creek G&YC is a short par 71, measuring 7059 yards. It possesses 11x par 4s (336-492 yards), 4x par 3s (158-223 yards) and 3x par 5s (551-569 yards).

Situated in the centre of the city, this beautifully-manicured desert parkland uses water (in-play on ten holes) and tall palm trees to frame the spacious and undulating layout.

It provides a good balance of narrower and more generous fairways, with sand - in the shape of abundantly large bunkers and waste areas - a prominent defence. Both aside said fairways and around the speedy, sloped and often elevated putting surfaces.

Some sharp run-offs add further protection to the greens, which are largely at an angle to your position in the fairway and much like those fairways, offer a good deal of variety in size.

From the “floating” tee box on the par 4 6th; to the island green complex on the par 5 13th and protecting the entire left-hand side of the two closing par 4s, water is a constant feature and threat around the course.

Having said that, with controlled ball-striking I feel you will be able to fashion plenty of scoring opportunities here. All par 5s should be reachable for most and in the 336-yard 3rd and 350-yard 17th, there are two potentially drivable par 4s.

In addition, I expect the amateur element of the event means they won’t trick the setup up too much, and with conditions looking relatively kind, I expect scoring to be decent.

THE STATS

Key Stats

  • SG: Approach
  • Greens-in-Regulation
  • SG: Off-the-Tee or Driving Accuracy

We have very little to go off here, with those two renewals of the Dubai Desert Classic too long ago to extract any real clues from in terms of how this course might play.

I do expect the best iron players to have an advantage, with the greens looking potentially tricky to hit, or at least in the correct spots.

I’d want to combine that with some quality with driver to produce an all-round strong ball-striking performance. Whether that be with one of those longer yet controlled drivers, who can take it to the par 5s and shorter par 4s, or the more accuracy-dependent players, who will avoid most of the major trouble here and give themselves the best chance to attack the greens from the fairways.

CORRELATING EVENTS (COURSES)

The Middle East is an obvious starting point and there are a handful in particular that I expect to be better guides than others:

Dubai Desert Classic (Emirates Golf Club)

Abu Dhabi Championship until 2021 (Abu Dhabi Golf Club)

Qatar Masters (Doha Golf Club)

Ras al Khaimah Championship (Al Hamra Golf Club)

There are plenty of aesthetic similarities between these four courses and Dubai Creek, along with the abundance of water and sand in-play. However, it’s the tough-to-find fairways that makes me lean on them most.

Each course ranks top 7 in driving accuracy difficulty on the DPWT over the last five years and with the tightness of some of this week’s landing areas, I also expect driving accuracy percentages to be on the low side here.

Two other courses I felt may be worth exploring are the Portugal Masters at the Dom Pedro Victoria Course and the Open de France at Le Golf National. The Victoria Course often correlates with middle-eastern venues, due to its general openness, strong bunkering and water in-play. Whilst the perilous, watery finish at Le Golf National isn’t too dissimilar to here and will require similarly composed ball-striking to overcome.

THE WEATHER

The players will be treated to ideal conditions to kick off their year in Dubai. It is set to be warm and sunny throughout the week and with little more than a strong breeze currently forecast, the wind shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

THE FIELD

World #2 Rory McIlroy is the clear star attraction as he gets the defence of his Race to Dubai title underway with a two-week stint in Dubai. Tommy Fleetwood is the next-best player at #15 and is joined by just a further two from inside the top 50: #32 Ryan Fox and #49 Adrian Meronk.

Nicolai Hojgaard makes his first appearance since winning the biggest title of his career at the DP World Tour Championship; accompanied by brother Rasmus.

Other notables include winning European Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald and 2018 Open Championship winner, Francesco Molinari.

SELECTIONS

Market Leaders: Rory McIlroy 13/5, Tommy Fleetwood 15/2, Nicolai Hojgaard 11/1, Rasmus Hojgaard 14/1, Adrian Meronk 16/1, Thorbjorn Olesen 18/1, Ryan Fox 18/1

Rory McIlroy is a clear and strong favourite this week but is easy enough to oppose at such a short price. He wasn’t at his most scintillating at the end of last year and though he won on his first start of the year in Dubai in 2023, a week where he’s entitled to be a little rusty seems an obvious one to take him on.

I’m going to keep it small and begin the new year with a player who continued to add trophies to his cabinet in 2023, Adrian Meronk.

2.5 pts Adrian Meronk each way (1/5 - 6 Places) - 16/1 

It would be easy to define Meronk’s previous season on that omission from the Ryder Cup team but it should be seen as another progressive year for the Pole.

His list of achievements for 2023 includes adding two further DPWT titles, which came at the Italian Open in May and at the end of October in the Andalucia Masters; a first major top 25 when finishing 23rd in the Open Championship and his general consistency throughout the year culminated in him finishing 4th on the Race To Dubai to earn himself a maiden crack at the PGA Tour this season.

He continued to excel with the driver, ranking 3rd on tour in 2023 but it was the career-best year in approach that was perhaps most encouraging for Meronk, as he ranked 18th. An improvement that gives him the type of high-class and power-packed ball-striking game that could see him kick-on at the top level if able to replicate it this year.

It should also serve him well here at Dubai Creek and with an ability to perform well on similar setups on show from his 3rd in Qatar, 4th in the Dubai Desert Classic and finishes of 4th and 6th at Ras Al Khaimah, I expect him to give McIlroy and the rest plenty to think about.

Adriank Meronk 16-1

1.25 pts Jorge Campillo each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 40/1 

Jorge Campillo was in good form at the end of 2023, where his approach play was as good as it had been all year and with some quality form in the Middle East, particularly in Qatar, he can get his year off to a fast start in Dubai.

Campillo was one of the form players in the first half of last year, where an excellent run of five consecutive top 10 finishes, from the Indian Open at the end of February to the Italian Open at the start of May saw him earn a third DPWT win in the Kenya Open.

His form dropped a touch following that spell but he was still playing solidly enough and making cuts. However, he upped his level again over the closing weeks of last season, hitting the top 20 three times in his final four starts, including going close to a second win of the year when losing out to Sami Valimaki in a playoff at the Qatar Masters.

The Spaniard’s irons looked strong over that period and he ranks inside the top 10 approach players in this field over the last three months. Indeed it was this area where he excelled most last year overall, ranking 32nd but has a strong all-round profile.

That 2nd in Qatar last year was Campillo’s second runner-up finish at Doha Golf Club, whilst he also has several top 10s across the Portugal Masters, Open de France and in Abu Dhabi; completing a positive profile for this test.

Campillo 40-1

1 pt Pablo Larrazabal each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 90/1 

Pablo Larrazabal is one of the most proven winners in this field and as someone who has actually taken down Rory before – beating him into 2nd in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Championship – he may relish this opportunity to upend the Northern Irishman more than most.

Pablo has been racking up wins for fun on the DPWT in the last two years, winning four times to almost double his overall tally on tour. Two of them came last year as he battled to two victories in the space of three starts at the Korea Championship and KLM Open.

His form tailed off following the second of those wins but he regained some consistency at the end of the year, making six of his last seven cuts; recording a couple of top 20s in Qatar and the Open de Espana.

As always, he excelled with the short game, ranking inside the top 26 around and on the greens last year but it is noteworthy that he enjoyed one of his best and most consistent recent years in approach, ranking 40th. This was again on show over that return to form in the latter weeks of the year, ranking 15th in this field over the last three months.

Larrazabal has often started his year off strongly in the Middle East as a winner and runner-up of the Abu Dhabi Championship; also possessing a 3rd at Al Hamra and two top 5s at Doha Golf Club. If he can quickly draw on those end-of-year positives he can do so again at Dubai Creek.

Pablo larrazabal 90-1

You can read all Jamie's latest Golf Betting Tips over on Betfred Insights.  

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