Gorgeous George to finally score

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: November 19 2012, 13:55 GMT

Our in-form tipster Ben Coley is backing George Coetzee to break his European Tour duck in this week's DP World Tour Championship.

George Coetzee should love the test ahead
George Coetzee should love the test ahead

The Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates once again plays host to the DP World Tour Championship and 57 of the European Tour's top 60 earners are set to tee it up.

Of course, the event's significance has in part been negated as Rory McIlroy has already been crowned the Race To Dubai champion, but we've still a quality golf tournament on a fine golf course to look forward to.

McIlroy heads the betting despite complaining of fatigue on his way to a missed cut in Hong Kong last week and he's followed by a bunch of in-form Englishmen who will each be desperate to end their seasons on a high.

At 7,675 yards, the Greg Norman-designed course is a substantial test in terms of length but these guys are just about all good enough to contend anywhere, so it's impossible to rule out the shorter hitters.

Instead, key to success here has typically been to hit a lot of greens or hole a lot of putts, with aggressive iron play rewarded in a tournament which should require something in the region of 18-under to win.

It's fair to say it's an event which has been relatively kind to market leaders. Alvaro Quiros was as big as 40/1 last year but was well backed at that price and none of the three champions was winning for the first time that season.

The most interesting trends, however, come in the shape of other tournaments which tie Quiros, Lee Westwood and Robert Karlsson together.

First and foremost, each has a superb record in the desert; indeed, both Karlsson and Quiros had won in the desert during the season of their Dubai World Championship success.

But equally as relevant might be the Portugal Masters, an event won by Quiros and Westwood and one in which Karlsson has placed three times from just four appearances.

So, my criteria centres around class players who've form either in the desert or at Oceanico Victoria, who have shown an ability to go low and, preferably, are in decent form.

It may surprise some to see that George Coetzee is my headline selection.

As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I'm in the increasing group of people who consider him to be supremely talented but not a winner, as was once again demonstrated in last week's SA Open Championship.

Trailing Henrik Stenson by three shots entering the final round, every time Coetzee got close to the Swede he made a mistake, be it an overhit chip, a pulled putt or a peculiar course management decision.

That's why he's managed 17 top-10 finishes in under three full seasons on the European Tour without yet being able to get over the line, and it's why I couldn't pull the trigger on him at 12/1 last week despite being confident that he'd contend.

However, at 40/1 I'm more than willing to take a chance this time.

Quite simply, Coetzee ticks every box bar the one that says 'victory'. He has two top six finishes from as many starts in the Portugal Masters and was sixth in Abu Dhabi and fifth in the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this season.

His debut at this course offers plenty of promise, too, as after a poor start he played the weekend in eight-under including a bogey-free final round to sit just outside the top 20. To put that into context, he played the weekend in a shot less than eventual champion Quiros, so there's evidence that the layout fits.

In addition, I really like the attitude he showed on Sunday. Despite ultimately coming up short yet again and in a tournament which means so much to him, Coetzee kept a smile on his face and was keen to take the positives, telling Twitter followers to 'watch this space' as his first win edges closer.

It's asking a lot for Coetzee to do it in this company, but this event isn't a bigger deal to him than his home Open and with four top-six finishes in six starts he's in the form of his life.

All things considered, the place part of the bet looks really good value and it's at this sort of price that he's worth chancing.

At a price, Shane Lowry is tempting given his Portugal Masters title, eighth-placed finished here last year and bits and pieces of form elsewhere in the Middle East.

However, the only other real outsider who makes serious appeal is Rafael Cabrera-Bello and I'll take 110/1 about him instead.

The Spaniard currently sits 17th in the Race To Dubai standings but victory would get him inside the top 10 and it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

He won the Dubai Desert Classic with an 18-under par winning total earlier this year, and having held off Lee Westwood to gain that success now truly belongs among the Tour's top 20.

With top 10 finishes in Abu Dhabi and Qatar also in the formbook, desert golf is absolutely his thing and as an aggressive iron player it's no surprise that his four professional wins have come in a combined 79-under par.

In addition, Cabrera-Bello finished second in the 2011 Portugal Masters when he arguably should've won, so his course profile is very much similar to that of compatriot Quiros despite obvious differences in their games.

Cabrera-Bello ranked fifth for greens hit here last year but couldn't get anything going with the putter, so if he's able to roll some in this week I can see him improving drastically on some admittedly modest recent form.

As well as that Race To Dubai bonus incentive, Cabrera-Bello sits 52nd in the Official World Golf Rankings and having freshened up with a week off I'm convinced he's poised for a big week.

Back at the head of the market, I can't ignore Ian Poulter at 16/1 and he completes the staking plan.

Remember, earlier this month he did us a huge favour at 20/1 and that was in a field of similar strength - I would argue it was a shade stronger - with the exception of McIlroy.

With fourth- and second-placed finishes either side of that, Poulter is just about the hottest golfer on Tour right now and I see no reason why he should be significantly shorter than, say, Luke Donald, who won a very weak Dunlop Phoenix on Sunday.

Europe's Ryder Cup star has business to deal with in this event too, having lost a play-off to Karlsson two years ago when incurring a penalty for dropping his marker on his ball.

Put all that together, add in the fact that he's also finished ninth here before and has an exceptional record at the end of the season, and I have absolutely no problem taking 16/1 and will make sure that a Poulter place gives us a profitable week.


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