A month’s worth of golf in the United Arab Emirates wraps up this week with the 2023 Ras Al Khaimah Championship.
This event debuted on the circuit in 2022, as part of a pair of tournaments in the city. This year, just one event will be held before the circuit moves on to Singapore.
After back-to-back Rolex Series elevated events, the field is a bit more wide open this week. It’s led by DP World Tour Championship points leader Victor Perez along with 2022 winners on this course, Nicolai Hojgaard and Ryan Fox.
Al Hamra Golf Club hosted a pair of events on the DP World Tour last year, including the inaugural version of this event in 2022. In addition, Al Hamra played host to the European Challenge Tour from 2016-18. The Peter Harradine-designed course is parred 72 and measures 7,325 yards. The course features plenty of water, as there are four interconnected lagoons located around the track. The elevation changes are also said to be gentle.
Last year, Nicolai Hojgaard won the Ras Al Khaimah Championship at a -24 264, while Ryan Fox won the Ras Al Khaimah Classic the following week at a -22 266.
Victor Perez (+1500) already tasted victory in the desert this year when he won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship two weeks ago. He followed that up with a 28th-place finish at the Dubai Desert Classic a week ago. He was set up well going into the final day before shooting a 75. Perez didn’t play in either event on this course last year but has two top 10s on the Challenge Tour, and he is the DP World Tour points leader as well.
Adrian Meronk (+1500) missed the cut last week but was 10th in Abu Dhabi. He also has a victory in this DP World Tour Championship season in the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. It was his second win after becoming the first Polish-born golfer to win on the DP World Tour at the Irish Open in 2022. He participated in the Ras Al Khaimah Classic and finished sixth. He also lost in a playoff here in a Challenge Tour event in 2017.
Ryan Fox (+1800) won the second event held here last year after missing the cut at this tournament. He picked up a second win in 2022 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He made the cut in both events over the past two weeks but didn’t contend. That was still better than his performance in two events in Australia in December; he missed the cut in one and withdrew from the other after three rounds.
Rasmus Hojgaard (+1800) and Nicolai Hojgaard (+2000) are both well-represented on the odds board. Nicolai was the winner here in 2022 and did so by driving three of the par-four greens and reached the par-five holes in two. His accuracy wasn’t as sharp the following week, however, as he missed the cut. Rasmus plays well at the Portugal Open, and the course there compares favorably to Al Hamra. He also came in 20th last week, so perhaps the elder Hojgaard brother is due for a win after last earning a victory in August 2021.
Padraig Harrington (+2500) was fourth at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi but followed it up by missing the cut at Emirates Golf Club last week. He did, however, shoot a 65 in the second round after his 81 in the opening round. He’s a big name so he’s in the mix, but it’s unknown whether he will perform well here. He did finish 27th in one of the tournaments here in 2022 and also played extremely well on the PGA’s senior tour at the end of last year.
Thriston Lawrence (+3000) won in South Africa for the second fall in a row, but he missed the cut last week after withdrawing at Yas Links. Adrian Otaegui (+3000) averaged 68.75 strokes per round in both events at this venue last year. He came home with a pair of 28th-place finishes over the last two weeks. In his most recent appearance before that was a second-place effort at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Adri Arnaus (+3500) won, on the Challenge Tour here, finished ninth in one of the events a year ago as Al Hamra, and was 13th last week in Dubai. Callum Shinkwin also sits at +3500 and finished fourth last week.
Oliver Bekker (+5000) had the best average score at this event among golfers who made the cut at both tournaments, coming up with an average score of 68.38 and finishing ninth in this event last year. Ross Fisher and Tapio Pulkkanen also averaged 68.38 in eight rounds last year and are available at even longer odds this week.
Pablo Larrazabal (+5500) had a top-three finish here a year ago and is among the most decorated players on the field, winning seven times on the DP World Tour.
One thing to consider is that the Dubai Desert Classic didn’t wrap up until Monday this week. But the short travel shouldn’t make playing here on Thursday too much of a factor. Even so, Perez missing the cut last week gives him a couple more days to rest before trying to win for the second time in three weeks. We like Perez among the favorites along with both Hojgaards. Thriston Lawrence is due to a good performance, and we like Arnaus and Larrazabal of the longshots.
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