The world number two, three and four are all in action this week in Dubai, and with all three in relatively good form, the bookmakers are finding it hard to look past either McIlroy, Kaymer or Westwood claiming the €315,531 for first prize.
Their odds of 4/1, 8/1 and 10/1 respectively clearly highlight their favouritism and with winds this weekend forecast to be much more manageable than last week, all three should be able to play their favourite style of play, and come Sunday I expect the bookmakers will have been proven right.
Backing all three each way actually even crossed my mind, but from a tipping perspective rolling off the first three names in the market is probably frowned upon, which is why I shall only allow myself to name one – Rory McIlroy.
4/1 may be more like a football match price than an outright golf price, but the world number two is actually that good. Unlucky to not win last time out due to a sloppy breaking of the rules, McIlroy will be out to reaffirm his status as the most feared name in golf and in doing so edge ever closer to the world number one slot.
If the 4/1 for the outright win is too short for you, then the 8/1 available for him to be first round leader might interest you. In fact, it is only in recent times that McIlroy has learned to close out on the good work put in during his early rounds so this may be where the real value lies this weekend. You will also be happy to hear that it was this course that he first learned to do this, taking home his maiden European Tour victory here in 2009.
If the bookmakers are indeed correct, and the world number 2, 3 and 4 do dominate proceedings, then there is limited value to be had in the outright market with only 2 other places paid each way.
That said, there are plenty of other markets to look at, and plenty of other names.
The next name that jumps out is Nicolas Colsaerts. Recent finishes of 4th, 24th and 9th have not gone unnoticed by the bookmakers, but despite this, his early start on Thursday morning means that the 40/1 available for him to be first round leader still represents some value, especially as all three of his first rounds this season have been below 70. Partnered with desert expert Simon Dyson and recent winner Branden Grace, this three-ball is definitely one to watch and if he can feed off his two playing partners, he should have no trouble shooting low.
Again staying away from the outright market, the next player I like is Thorbjorn Olesen. Having spent the New Year practising in Dubai, the talented Dane was unlucky with his draw last week, getting caught in high winds, but with a top ten already under his belt in recent weeks, he really is over-priced (80/1 for the win), and while he may not be quite ready for a debut win just yet, there is no reason to not take the 19/5 available with Boylesports for him to win Group D (Joost Luiten, Soren Hansen, Ricardo Gonzalez, Thorbjorn Olesen and Michael Hoey). With only 4 others in the group, and only Hoey a bigger price, Olesen represents great value for an in-form player in a five horse race.