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The 5 favourites at the Dubai Desert Classic

The 5 favourites at the Dubai Desert Classic


The 25th Dubai Desert Classic begins on Thursday, with a glittery array of past champions in the field for the silver anniversary, including world No 1 Tiger Woods. Steve Elling eyes the favourites.

1. Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Double-trend alert. Including Cabrera-Bello'swin in 2012, Spaniards have claimed the Dubai Desert Classic title a record five times. Spaniards have won four of the past European Tour events this year, too.

2. Thorbjorn Olesen: The young Dane missed a play-off last week in Doha by a stroke, and he has a strong Desert Swing resume after finishing third last year in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. His second career victory looms.

3. Joost Luiten: After winning twice last year, the momentum has been impressive. Luiten has finished third and sixth in his two starts in the new year and was fourth in the Race to Dubai finale last autumn.

4. Johan Carlsson: The largely unknown Swedish rookie has made an impressive start to 2014 and is a solid long-shot pick. In two Desert Swing starts he has finished seventh and 16th, respectively.

5. Tiger Woods: After a horrid 79, he missed the cut in his season opener last weekend at one of his personal playgrounds, Torrey Pines, site of eight career wins. But as a two-time Dubai champion, he is impossible to ignore.