Race in for rested G-Mac
David John says a refreshed Graeme McDowell looks overpriced to make a bold bid for the DP Dubai World Tour Championship.
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Market leader and defending champion in the DP World Tour Championship is Rory McIlroy and once again he was reasonably upbeat after his T6 in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai before sitting out last week's event in Turkey.
It is the familiar stock response from the Irishman at the moment as he continues to seek the form that saw him dominate here 12 months ago in a process that has become painfully slow both to him and his legion of fans.
- 1.5pts e.w. Graeme McDowell at 33/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Betfred, Coral) - Took a break last week and should be raring to go in his bid for the week's big prizes.
- 1pt e.w. Thomas Aiken at 150/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 Boylesports) - Signs that his form is coming back and worth a play at a Greg Norman-designed venue.
- 1pt e.w. Thongchai Jaidee at 70/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 bet365) - Confident about his game currently and has a decent record in Dubai.
There are undoubtedly better signs from him but he is still struggling to put somewhere near his Sunday best together for 72 holes and I remain to be convinced at this juncture how his game would hold up under real pressure over the final nine holes of an event of this nature and in this company.
He looks bad value and I just can't suggest backing him at 7/1.
I tipped Ian Poulter last week at 18s and his chance has now been reassessed at 12/1.
The Englishman almost won this back in 2010 before a bizarre incident replacing his ball on the 18th green during the play-off with Robert Karlsson cost him a one-shot penalty.
Naturally I watched him closely on Sunday in Turkey and there were a couple of occasions when he almost reached boiling point as he could not quite get on terms with leader Victor Dubuisson.
His intensity on course is one of his greatest assets but the goals are so lofty at present that even the current excellent state of his game can not quite deliver and he cuts an increasingly frustrated figure.
Like McIlroy, the price makes no great appeal but I do think Graeme McDowell has perhaps been overlooked all things considered.
He was part of the showdown in Shanghai alongside Poulter and Dustin Johnson and similarly to Poulter, did not back down an inch with a closing 66.
He arrives in Dubai right in the mix for being crowned top player in Europe this season and should be nice and fresh having decided to take last week off with the prospect of playing in the World Cup as well that follows.
His return is keenly anticipated too after he shot 14 under par over the weekend the last time we saw him and did not drop a shot in those closing 36 holes.
My one concern is his course form at the Jumeirah Golf Estates.
He only broke par once 12 months ago on the way to a T52, however he said: "This is a course that I have slowly crept up on in the last few years. I am looking forward to getting back there."
I reckon McDowell will make a big impact - he has no reason not to with such a lot on the line - and is well worth backing at the price.
Henrik Stenson holds sway at the top of the Race To Dubai entering the final furlong and being a resident in the Emirate, he has played this course plenty of times.
But he does admit it is not his favourite venue and a nagging wrist injury will disrupt his preparation.
He may or may not take part in Wednesday's pro-am depending on how it feels and his effectiveness over four days of competition considering the almighty swat he gives the ball has to be a concern.
The gallant fashion with which Dubuisson held off the big names in Turkey should be an eye-opener to those players just below the top tier and I think South African Thomas Aiken could be inspired.
His form has not been a great deal to write home about in the second half of the year but there are certainly indications lately his game is coming around.
Whether it is fully back to his best remains to be seen but at 150/1 I am willing to give it a crack with signs very much of life in Portugal and Turkey.
At his best, Aiken is a quality operator as he proved with victory earlier in 2013 at the Avantha Masters in India and the fact that was on a course designed by Greg Norman boosts confidence.
Finally, I am going to put up Thongchai Jaidee, who also remains in the hunt for the Race To Dubai.
He has produced a number of good displays in the desert over the years and boasts two top-10s on his last two visits to this particular venue.
He rather took exception to being left out of the Presidents Cup side to face the USA but bounced backed in tenacious fashion with a second in the BMW Masters.
His form has ticked over since but was generally delighted with how he was hitting the ball as the season winds down so I am keen to see how he fares at 70/1 with everything on the line.