Race to Dubai 2018

It’s just a few short weeks since Tommy Fleetwood closed out a gruelling 2017 season, heading off a late challenge from Justin Rose to claim the Race to Dubai Trophy. Although most of Europe’s best golfers have taken a break since the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, the 2018 renewal is already on and it won’t be long before we see the best players in action once again.

Betting is already open for the Race to Dubai 2018 so let’s see what’s in store for this year along with a look at the background to this event.

Format

The format here is essentially a very simple one with golfers playing for prize money on the European Tour. That prize money converts to points and at the end of the season, the golfer with the most points takes the Race to Dubai Trophy.

In 2018, there are 46 qualifying tournaments in 29 countries so it’s a long campaign. 2017’s winner Fleetwood seemed physically and emotionally drained as he claimed the title and, outside of the four Majors, this is one of the pinnacles of the game. The Race to Dubai was officially introduced in 2009, replacing the previous title known as the European Order of Merit and in its short history we have seen some notable winners including Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood.

So that’s the background but who is in the frame for the Race to Dubai 2018?

Front Runners

Rory McIlroy

The race has officially started with some minor tournaments across the world while the majority of the favourites have yet to get fully involved. Leading the way with the bookmakers therefore is Rory McIlroy who can currently be picked up at odds of 2/1 with William Hill and Winner Sports.

2017 wasn’t a great year for the popular Northern Irishman and a series of missed cuts led him to part company with his long standing caddy JP Fitzgerald. Despite all those issues, Rory still managed to finish 2017 in 13th place in the standings so a return to form could put him right back in contention.

For many, the one to watch this year is Spain’s Jon Rahm who finished 3rd behind Fleetwood and Rose to become second favourite at a best of 11/2 with 188Bet for 2018. The question for Rahm lies in how many tournaments he will take part in this year.

That’s an issue for a number of top golfers but, after taking his first tournament wins on either side of the Atlantic last year, Europe may see a little less of Jon Rahm in 2018.

Chasing Pack

Justin Rose

Justin Rose is third favourite at 15/2 with 188Bet and another player who will split his time between Europe and America this year. However, the Englishman is far more experienced on the circuit and has established a routine for some years so, having run Fleetwood so close in 2017, Rose has a great chance this time around.

One man who remains fairly loyal to the European Tour is 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson who can be backed at 8/1 with William Hill and Winner Sports. The Swede is a former winner of the Race to Dubai and despite an inconsistent year, still managed a creditable 15th place last time out.

Outsiders

Having won the most recent Race to Dubai, it may surprise many to see Tommy Fleetwood leading the outside punts at a top price of 20/1 with Winner Sports and 188Bet. The Englishman started so strongly at the beginning of the campaign but form did desert Fleetwood at the end as Justin Rose claimed late, back-to-back wins that almost snatched the title.

That late lapse and the potential for Fleetwood to play more tournaments in the US is perhaps why he has drifted so much in the markets.

One price that really interests us here is the 16/1 with William Hill and 188Bet next to the name of Tyrrell Hatton. 2017 was a real breakthrough year for the 26 year old who successfully defended his Alfred Dunhill Links crown in October before winning again in the following week at the Italian Open.

Hatton should be able to build on that fifth place finish in the 2017 Race to Dubai and hasn’t quite got to the stage in his career where he will start to focus more on the PGA Tour over in America.

Among the other names in this section, we would tend to ignore Paul Casey at 28/1 with Winner Sports as he plays almost exclusively in the US but it is Ryder Cup year so perhaps we may see more of some players as they attempt to qualify for the European team.

Meanwhile, Matthew Fitzpatrick should be a regular on the tour and should attract more interest at his best odds of 25/1 with William Hill and Winner Sports. It may also be worth keeping an eye on South African Branden Grace who is one of a few players competing in the early 2018 tournaments and after a strong showing in his country’s home Open, he is a 33/1 chance with Winner Sports and 188Bet.

Tommy Fleetwood

There are so many names to consider and we’ve yet to even mention Sergio Garcia, the US Masters Champion who was fourth in the Race last year. We don’t see so much of Sergio these days and he’s almost certain to be at the Ryder Cup, even as a Captain’s Pick, but the Spaniard is certainly worth considering at 25/1 with William Hill and 188Bet.

While we’re here, other names worthy of note in the outsider category could include Alex Noren at best odds of 40/1 with Winner Sports and 188Bet and Paul Dunne who is 66/1 in some places while out at 125/1 with Winner Sports.

Moving into more distant territory, Ian Poulter and Chris Wood can both be taken at 150/1 with William Hill and it may just be worth looking at Lee Westwood who enjoyed a consistent 2017 without making a major impact. Former Race to Dubai winner Westwood is out at 125/1 with 188Bet.

Verdict

When previewing any sporting event we naturally talk about form and also that it can be tough to predict a long term outcome when the season is just starting. However, there is an old saying in sport that states Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent and it’s true at times, meaning that there are certain golfers here that can’t be ignored.

Obviously there is some momentum with Tommy Fleetwood and he certainly can’t be ruled out but that fairly distant price reflects a dip in form at the end of 2017. There will also be a lot of support for Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy as two of the world’s best.

Ultimately, it comes down to two golfers for us and they are at different stages in their respective careers. Tyrrell Hatton is just breaking through and after those back-to-back wins in 2017, we’re expecting big things this year.

Meanwhile, there is the class of Justin Rose who seems to be getting better as he approaches the 40 mark. Feel free to take either or both of these tips or alternatively you can always make your own decision as we all look forward to what will hopefully be a profitable season in 2018.

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