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Dubai Invitational preview: Rory McIlroy takes centre stage

The first DP World Tour event of 2024 starts on Thursday with the Dubai Invitational, featuring Rory McIlroy as a short-price favourite.

WhatDubai Invitational
WhereDubai Creek, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When04:35, Thursday 11th January 2023
How to watchbet365 Live Golf Tracker & Sky Sports Golf
OddsRory McIlroy 5/2, Tommy Fleetwood 7/1, Nicolai Hojgaard 10/1, Adrian Meronk 14/1, Rasmus Hojgaard 14/1

McIlroy takes centre stage in this week's inaugural Dubai Invitational – teeing up as 5/2 favourite in a 60-man event which does not have a halfway cut.

The pro-am includes 60 amateurs for the first three days, then the professionals go alone on Sunday to battle it out for the prize money. McIlroy, the world number two and a four-time Major champion, will expect to contend for the title.

McIlroy has not competed since finishing 22nd of 50 runners in the DP World Tour Championship, which was also in Dubai. He has returned to the Middle East after almost two months on the sidelines, so could have some rust in his system.

McIlroy brought a new driver into play at the DP World Tour Championship, failing to get into contention, so it will be interesting to see how the Northern Irishman performs off the tee over the next four days.

This is the first tournament McIlroy has played since Jon Rahm joined LIV Golf, so plenty of questions about his Ryder Cup colleague can be expected.

Another of McIlroy's Ryder Cup allies – Tommy Fleetwood – has entered the Dubai Invitational. Fleetwood lives in Dubai, so this is a home game for the 7/1 chance. He arrived at the venue later than most, though, having finished 47th of 59 runners in The Sentry in Hawaii last week.

If Fleetwood can shrug off the exertions of his long trek from Hawaii, he will expect to play well in front of family and friends this week.

Each-way terms of a quarter the odds, the first five places are available for the Dubai Invitational, as well as alternative terms like a fifth the odds, the first eight.

Dubai Invitational course details

Dubai Creek Resort is a 7,059-yard, par-71, with three par-fives. The course opened in 1993 and hosted the Dubai Desert Classic in 1999 and 2000, with David Howell and Jose Coceres winning the events.

The front nine has been revised since then, but the back nine is a layout which has stood the test of time. Lush fairways run alongside the creek.

There is more water in play than for typical desert layouts. Sunny and pleasant weather is forecast, with gentle breezes throughout. The previous contenders at Dubai Creek have been accurate players who have putted well.

Three to follow

Yannik Paul

Perhaps the main threat to McIlroy and Fleetwood this week will come from Yannik Paul, who can be backed at 28/1 for Dubai Invitational glory.

Paul has become one of the most consistent ball-strikers on the DP World Tour, winning the Mallorca Open and contending regularly, and this greens-in-regulation machine should take a shine to the Dubai Creek assignment.

Paul is comfortable playing desert golf, having spent several years living in Colorado, competing for the University of Colorado golf team.

Jorge Campillo

The Middle East has always been kind to Jorge Campillo and the relaxed Spaniard will likely fall in love with Dubai Creek. Campillo won the Qatar Masters in 2020 and has twice finished runner-up in that event, most recently when losing a playoff to Sami Valimaki in October.

Campillo, who finished second in the 2019 Oman Open, is a neat and tidy player well suited to this week's assignment. He posted six top-tens on the DP World Tour last year, including a victory in the Kenya Open.

Campillo, who is 45/1 for Dubai Invitational success, loves competing on his home circuit. He earned a PGA Tour card from his Race to Dubai ranking last season, but has opted to start his year with five DP World Tour events.

Nathan Kimsey

An improving 30-year-old Englishman, Nathan Kimsey has been a popular 50/1 chance this week. The Boston boy is an interesting each-way option given he won twice on the Challenge Tour in 2022, then nearly won a PGA Tour event last summer.

Kimsey lost a playoff to Vincent Norrman for the Barbasol Championship in July, then finished third in the Spanish Open. He is capable of getting into the mix at Dubai Creek.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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