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Saudi international 2021

The Event, Venue and Course

Another weeks worth of exciting golf is behind us and off the back of that we have another very deserved winner in Paul Casey, who finally gets to add his name to that illustrious list of past winners of the Dubai Desert Classic

Last week was also a much better week for my DraftKings picks. 14/15 made the cut, Casey in the majority of my line ups and a nice return at the end of the week. Lets hope this little bit of luck sticks with us now and we can get on a nice run and contend for bigger returns.

Anyway a new week is upon us and the European Tour moves on to its penultimate middle-east swing event in Saudi Arabia, for what is a relatively new event to feature in the schedule. With this only being the 3rd showcasing of the Saudi International, they have already managed to establish themselves as an event to be seen at (or maybe not) and are drawing in the big names through endless pots of Saudi cash.
ROYAL GREENS GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB.

 

Length and Par: 7,010 yard, Par 70.

Architect and Design: Dave Sampson (European Golf Design 2017). Desert/Coastal layout.

Greens: Royal Dynasty Paspalum (11'6")

Fairways: Royal Dynasty Paspalum

Rough: Royal Dynasty Paspalum

This will be the 3rd course on the middle-east (desert) swing and although much of the narrative regarding playing conditions will be very similar to what we have already seen. This course however does have its own unique element and that would be its coastal location and in particular the stretch of holes that run along the Red Sea. Elsewhere on the course more water comes into play, with 4 essential lakes all connected by drainage ditches, that can be brought into play with a bad shot or poor shot choice.

As it's a desert course the usual waste areas and native desert patches form a big part of its design and help to frame each hole. The land itself, relatively flat and massively exposed to the conditions.

Plenty of interesting holes and scoring opportunities, especially when playing on surface like they are at this new but amazingly well prepared venue.

 

PAST WINNERS.
Year Winner Score To par Margin of
victory
Runner-up Winner's
Share ($)
Purse ($)
2021 583,330 3,500,000
2020 Northern Ireland Graeme McDowell 268 −12 2 strokes United States Dustin Johnson 583,330 3,500,000
2019 United States Dustin Johnson 261 −19 2 strokes China Li Haotong 583,330 3,500,000
saudi-arabia-royal-greens

The Field & Key Stats

 

THE FIELD

Saudi Money = Another Strong Field.

Once again there is a lot to like about the field participating this week and this is probably the strongest field we have been treated to so far.

  • Big names from the PGA Tour make appearances including DJ, Bryson, Mickleson, Reed, Finau and Hovland.
  • Strength in depth with our 1st two winners of the year Hatton and Casey plus fan favorites like Na and Tommy.
  • Ryder Cup regulars, Stenson, Rose, Westwood, Garcia and Poulter stick around for more action.
  • Tonnes of value to be found at both ends of the spectrum.
  • (Ryder Cup, playing rights etc, R2D points and a pure course, also contribute to this strong field and what has become a very welcome addition to the schedule.)

 

5 in FORM.

 

Robert MacIntyre - Record: 2,31,3,1,15. Cuts made 5/5 (1 Win and a total of 3 top 10's in last 5. Placed 2nd last week on the PGA Tour)

Victor Hovland - Record: 2,4,31,5,8. Cuts made 5/5, (4 top 10's in last 5 starts with runner up last week on the PGA Tour)

Christian Bezuidenhout - Record: 22,12,14,1,1. Cuts made 5/5 (2 Wins in last 5 and 2 more inside the top 15.)

Paul Casey - Record: 1,8,38,35,69. Cuts made 5/5 (1 Win last week and a top 10 the week before on PGA Tour)

Tony Finau - Record: 2,4,31,5,8. Cuts made 5/5, (4 top 10's in last 5 starts with runner up last week on the PGA Tour)

 

HORSES 4 COURSES.

With only 2 events played here so far there isn't a great deal to base this off. I am only including those that have played both years to date and selected those with the best stroke average and results.

However, one player does deserve a mention for their 1 time visit and that's our defending champ... GMac.

 

Dustin Johnson - Stroke Average 66.38, Cuts made 2/2. Wins 1 (2019), Runner up (2020).

Li. Haotong - Stroke Average 67.50, Cuts made 2/2. Runner up (2019) placed 21st (2020)

Gavin Green - Stroke Average 67.63, Cuts made 2/2. Placed 11th (2019) placed 3rd (2020)

Ross Fisher - Stroke Average 68.0, Cuts made 2/2, Placed 13th (2019), placed 6th (2020)

 

TRENDING 3.

 

Marc Warren - Marc really should of been in the field last week and such a shame he did miss out whilst in good form, anyway no doubt he has used that free time wisely and spent plenty of that getting early looks in here and ready to give us another solid performance.

Adri Arnaus - Very much knocking on the door for a win. Adri picked up another top 10 last week, making it 3 in last 5. With a very impressive start to this year. 12th in Abu Dhabi and 9th in Dubai.

Tyrrell Hatton - 2 Wins and 5 top 10's in his last 9 events. This will be Tyrrells first trip around Royal Greens but his game should be perfect here and lets not forget he's now regarded as one of the best currently on the planet.

 

2 TO WATCH.

Both players on this list are here for all the wrong reasons and no doubt eyes will cast on both to ensure they aren't disgracing themselves or our beautiful game, however it does bring a little more interest to proceedings and if nothing else a conversation topic.

Patrick Reed - Let me start by saying i am far from Patrick's biggest fan and I have no doubt he will try to gain an advantage where he can.. Be that within the rules or not.

However what he did last week was a million miles from cheating and honestly I am shocked how many so called experts and pundits in particular had no idea what the rules are or the correct process to follow.

I honestly hate to say it but he won fair and square and fully deserved his win and big pay day. Just a real shame for the guy that his reputation did and will now always go before him and cast an ugly shadow on his impressive game and career.

Sergio Garcia - Just like Patrick reputation is everything and often people can be very slow to forget especially when you do things as dumb and as frequently as these two.

However Garcia is and always has been a much more likable character and thanks to recent Ryder Cups it has helped mask some of his shameful traits.

Cast yourself back two years and you will see a nasty DQ next to Sergio's name for the event here.. All I'm saying is I wouldn't let him walk the course again let alone play the event again... And if i was forced to let him play I'd make him play barefoot to protect the greens.

 

1 FULL FADE.

 

Shane Lowry - There's plenty of good reasons to play Shane, the style of course, the wind, his amazing short game and of course the fact that he is still regarded as the current champion golfer of the year.

Obviously all of the above drive up his ownership and as far as DraftKings are concerned it drives up his price as well and for me there are far better pivot options that at least give you a better winning chance and if not at least still be in contention and not hanging aroun mid leader-board as Shane often does.

 

KEY STATS

When making my picks this week I still want to stick with a good degree of aggressive style play. Scoring opportunities are reduced with only two par 5's, so I want my players to go for pins and hopefully make up the shortfall.

However with that said I have also added some more stable/reliable style players who just go out and make sure they minimize mistakes and maximize their chances of weekend golf.

 

OFF THE TEE - I think this course accommodates both styles of play very nicely. Bombers and short knockers alike, have all posted great scores here and I think it very much depends on the weather conditions on the day as to what style may gain an advantage.

IRON PLAY - Ball strikers week.. Hit greens, attack the right pins, create chances and keep that score ticking over

PUTTING & SCRAMBLING - After last week and unfortunately sub standard greens I am sure there will be many far happier and more confident rolling them in here. I would expect to see them a little slower than tour average but most definitely pure rolling.

Great putters like, Hatton and Wallace for example should benefit most, especially if this turns into a bit of a putting contest.

 

WEATHER/DRAW

The current reports would suggest those teeing it up Thursday AM are going to have the best of the pre-cut conditions. The wind is calmer both Thursday morning compared to the afternoon and much calmer on Friday afternoon compared to the morning.

I will be looking at this again much closer to the start of the event, however, for now I am favoring those on the better side of the draw. There is however a risk of thunderstorms on Friday afternoon, if this disrupts play for long enough it may well negate that advantage a little.

Picking a FRL is going to come from the early starters. Little to no wind, best of the greens and a chance to post a number that will be tougher to match as the day progresses.

 

Thursday - Scattered showers, building breeze. (Wind 4 - 20 mph.)

Friday - Scattered showers, calming breeze. (Wind 20 - 6 mph.)

Saturday - Cloudy, cooler, constant breeze. (Wind 14 mph.)

Sunday - Sunny, buliding breeze. (Wind 5 - 23 mph.)

DraftKings Picks

 

OVER $9.000

  • DUSTIN JOHNSON - $11.6K - (8:10 Thursday)
  • VICTOR HOVLAND - $10.4K - (12:30 Thursday)
  • TONY FINAU - $9.9K - (7:50 am Thursday)

$8,000's

  • ROBERT MACINTYRE - $8.9K - (12:40 Thursday)
  • KEVIN NA - $8.4K - (8:20 Thursday)
  • ADRI ARNAUS - $8.1K - (12:00 Thursday)
  • BERND WEISBERGER - $8.0K - (7:40 am Thursday)

 $7,000's

  • RASMUS HOJGAARD - $7.9K - (12:20 Thursday)
  • THOMAS DETRY - $7.8K - (8:40 Thursday)
  • ANTOINE ROZNER - $7.6K - (7:20 Thursday)
  • MARC WARREN - $7.1K - (11:50 Thursday)

 $6,000's

  • SCOTT JAMIESON - $6.9K - (12:30 Thursday)
  • FABRIZIO ZANOTTI - $6.9K - (8:20 Thursday)
  • RICHARD STERNE - $6.8K - (8:40 Thursday)
  • WADE ORMSBY - $6.5K - (7:10 Thursday)
  • STEVEN BROWN - $6.3K - (8:10 Thursday)

  Others. (Late additions, check back here before lock.)

  • TYRRELL HATTON - $10.4K - (8:10 Thursday)
  • PAUL CASEY - $9.7K - (12:40 Thursday)
  • MATTHIAS SCHWAB - $7.8K - (13:00 Thursday)

Betting Picks

 

E/W OUTRIGHT

 

DUSTIN JOHNSON 7/1

TONY FINAU - 16/1                           

BERND WEISBERGER - 60/1                     

 

                  

 

FIRST ROUND LEADER

 

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU - 18/1

TONY FINAU - 23/1                           

BERND WEISBERGER - 50/1                     

STEVE BROWN - 200/1