Sizing up the odds at the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Dubai, Saturday. Tension is rising in the final countdown to golf’s fifth ‘major’ – the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup, which tees off later today at the Four Seasons Golf Club in the heart of Dubai Festival City. The 36-hole tournament concludes the following day at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.

Once again the cream of the duty free industry’s golfing talent has gathered here for the tournament, producing one of the most open fields for years. Here The Moodie BLOG gives the odds on some of the likeliest – and unlikeliest contenders:

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Sunil Tuli: Odds: 18-1: India’s best-known duty free export is rapidly becoming known as the King of Power in industry golf circles, following his successive victories in The Moodie Report’s own MIS-HIT tournament in Cannes and The Smile Train trophy in Hong Kong a few weeks earlier. But a fatal tendency to pose for the camera in mid-swing (pictured above) could catch him out in a high profile tournament like this.

Will this renowned Indian tee planter make it three in a row and continue his vindaloo-like hot streak? Let’s hope not – we’ll never hear the end of it.

Ray Martin: Odds 73 million to 1: Based in Wales, home of many great golfers, but frankly Shirley Bassey using a leek as a putter and a miner’s hat as a ball would have a better chance of winning than Ray does. He has a swing that could charitably be described as needing what Ray and his wife Christine’s firm, TRT, specialises in – training.

Art Miller: Odds: 3-1: A previous winner here, though his form lately has been as streaky as a Revlon lipstick wearer after being kissed by King Kong. But with his wife Nancy here to keep him on the straight and narrow, expect the affable American and Appalachian Country Club member to be high on the leaderboard come Monday afternoon.

David Spillane: Odds: 1.5 million to 1: A real dark horse from Ireland but so was Sherghar and look what happened there. In fact we reckon the chances of the long-gone racehorse turning up in Dubai and shooting two sub-par rounds are better than the odds of the Graham Norton look-a-like from Ireland walking off with this year’s trophy.

David putts like Padraig Harrington (though only if the latter was using a shillelagh and a potato) while his swing and follow through is often mistaken for a Riverdance impersonation.

Expect a few points on day 1 and a lot more pints afterwards. And, oh dear, after a night’s excesses at the Irish Village evening he’ll be at even longer odds than you’d get on Ireland winning the last Rugby World Cup. 

John Kammerman: Odds: 5-1: The defending champion who knows the importance of being earnest in his preparation. While others are partying hard on the middle-night, ‘JK’ will be slipping home to bed at 8.15p.m, sipping on a cup of hot milk, putting on his favourite Phil Mickleson video and pacing out yardages in his mind until he falls into a restless sleep.

Desperate to follow up last year’s triumph, the popular tobacco executive has been filtering all impurities from his game and is rumoured to be in Imperial form, especially Regal around the greens. Victory would make him one of the undoubted Superkings of the game. 

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Jonathan Holland: Odds: 400-1: Known as something of a ladies man (pictured with one of his many girlfriends) what a result a victory for the affable ex-Royal Navy midshipman would be. What a completely unlikely result that is. Known as Forrest to his many friends for his uncanny resemblance to the Tom Hanks-played Forrest Gump, the nickname suggests he’ll spend half of his time in the trees. The other half, as with all good navy men, he’ll be all at sea.

Dan Cappell: Odds 32-1: The much-loved Englishman’s game improved sharply during his time with the golf-mad Irish contingent at Aer Rianta International-Middle East in Bahrain.

But back on his old turf in Abu Dhabi, work pressures are rumoured to have wreaked havoc with the Cappellini rhythm method. As a result (pictured) he has been working closely with a sports pyschologist to get his game back in shape.

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However, playing last week he claims to have never once found the sand – worrying really given that he was playing on Abu Dhabi’s desert course. Cappellini the champion or simply desperate Dan? You pays your money, you takes your choice…

John Sutcliffe: Odds: 10-1: Still grieving after the Irish Rugby team’s early exit from the World Cup, the real bloke from Bahrain out of Tipperary could make amends here. He knows the local conditions well, having first played here in 1983 and by Monday night, Irish eyes just could be smiling. Just be careful if you’re playing with him and he mentions using a wedgey…

Maurice Burke: Odds: 9-1: The field’s ‘Mr Consistent’, who knows success is all about getting the margins right. Victory would be sweet for the man known as Mossie apparently ever since a mosquito bite on the 18th caused him to four putt the final putt amid a malaria-raging fever in 2004 and be pipped to the championship. Or so legend has it…

A win for one of the industry’s most popular figures would be the biggest sporting success in Ireland since Munster beat the All Blacks in 1978. And wouldn’t the Dubai Duty Free trophy look good alongside all those Frontier Awards?

Dermot Davitt: Odds: 30-1: Part of a large Irish contingent, though he’s working hard to lose the weight. Fresh from perfecting his putting stroke in the Galway Garden Shed (sorry, regional headquarters) of The Moodie Report, word has it that he’s on fire at the moment. “That’s the last time I let him do the cooking,” complained his wife Michelle on the eve of the tournament.

But being ashen-faced on day two after the revelries of the Irish Village evening is nothing new to the smooth-swinging Eamonn Holmes lookalike who certainly knows how to hold his drink – usually between his thumb and little finger.

His prospects may be dulled further by the small print in his employment contract which stipulates instant dismissal if he finishes ahead of The Moodie Report Publisher.

Harry Diehl: Odds: 1000-1: The most popular man in the field, ‘the real Diehl’ will bring Travel Value to the tournament and all the romantics would love him to win. And imagine the headline – ‘Hamburger wins golf tournament’. Let’s hope his game is as hot as the fine Habanos he’s certain to be smoking all the way round.

Walsh, Webster and Maxwell: Odds 16-1: Yes, that popular team of aviation sector barristers from the UK are back in town, looking for a double dose of glory after their fantastic success at the Frontier Awards in Cannes.

Kevin, Andrew and Garry certainly represent a premier portfolio of golfing talents but expect the exertions of the Irish Village to have them reaching for – and be in – the water at Dubai Creek’s closing holes on day 2.

The best bet of the trio? Let’s look at their chances one by one. Webster’s consistent… consistently bad; Walsh is Welsh, consistently Welsh, so no chance; but Maxwell’s silver hammer, as he calls his driver, is said to be in prime form. Like the coffee brand after which he is named, Garry is strong, can be stirred into action and has a taste for the cup. And as you can see from the picture below taken this week in Dubai, he takes his preparation seriously.

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Bruce McGuire: Odds 8-1: You know a golfer is serious about winning when he alters his birth certificate to ADD years to his age so he can play in the seniors. Having been caught out doing that when he was 19, Brucie has gone straight ever since, especially on the fairways.

Fantastically consistent – his handicap has remained consistently unchanged for 30 years despite playing five times a week – the Scorpio director may have a sting in his tail come the closing holes. We’re picking him to win the super seniors – subject to a full audit of his birth certificate – and be among the front runners overall.

Richard Kennedy: Odds 2000-1: The other Scorpio entrant in this year’s tournament, he has been taking lessons from company boss Stuart McGuire all week. So that’s Richard’s chances gone then. A steady enough golfer but known to dislike sand and water since someone stole his bucket and spade as a child. Richard, about these courses in Dubai… there’s something you ought to know…

James Kfouri: Odds: 100-1: A new face in the field this year, the Paton’s man from down under has been warming up for this event by chipping his company’s famous macadamia chocolates into an egg-cup – with uncanny success. But doesn’t he know they’ll melt in the Dubai heat when he tries it on a real course? Never count an Aussie out when it comes to sport – unless he’s a boxer who’s just been knocked out or a rugby player – but we think James’ chances of victory are about as high as a kangaroo sighting on the first tee.

Dan Kongsted: Odds 600 billion Danish Kroner to one: The great Dane of industry golf is back again, which means the golf course will be about as safe as being in a bathtub with a great white shark. The Valora executive tries hard and was spotted yesterday on the driving range working on his game. As a result his odds actually lengthened. The professional at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club is said to be recovering well in hospital after being hit by an errant Kongsted drive from the range. The pro was sitting in the clubhouse at the time…

Eric Bale: Odds: 1 million to one: The popular Singapore-based Chanel executive applies strict selective distribution principles to his game. He only hits his Callaway ball left or right as down the middle there is too much space for other brands. When asked what club he is taking off the tee, the Frenchman always replies: “I only use No. 5” 

Martin Moodie: Odds: 3 million to 1: New Zealand’s last hope for World Cup glory in 2007, after the All Blacks debacle in the rugby, the cricket team’s semi-final exit, the netballer’s loss in the final to Australia, the Americas Cup yachting failure against land-locked Switzerland, and the national sheep shearers squad’s dramatic loss to the Faroe Islands.

With a nation’s hopes pinned on him, can this Kiwi take flight? Like the national bird, no. Will he choke? In a word, yes. In two words, without doubt. His game is so bad that it’s rumoured that tournament host Colm McLoughlin organised his recent hip operation earlier in the month to avoid being paired with him again. The national anthem – God Defend New Zealand – seems perfectly named…

Richard Ferne: Odds: 87 gazillion to a half: Still rumoured to be finishing last year’s round and the only player in the world with a 316 handicap, Richard is determined to maintain his proud tradition of finishing every hole – whatever his score.

One of his fellow players managed to dart downtown for some shopping and a four-course lunch last year while waiting for Richard to work his way past the ladies’ tee on his 43rd shot on a par five, carefully replacing each of his divots along the way.

With his initials RAF, (the A stands for armageddon) it’s no wonder his game is so often shot down in flames. If you find you’re paired with him on either day be afraid – be very afraid. And pack the sun block.

Brian Venables: Odds 300-1: Boy can the American hit a ball! And if he ever learns to hit it straight, look out. Obviously he doesn’t know how warm it gets here as his entry form mentioned he was wearing a New Jersey. Our Brian is a party lad so we reckon he’ll pick up plenty of points on day one but after the Irish Village night could fall faster than a roller skater on the New Jersey turnpike.

George Horan: Odds: 6-1: With his boss out of contention due to recuperation from hip surgery, could this be the year for ‘Gorgeous George’ as he is known by wife Carmel? He has the game, the consistency, and like all good airport retailers, the terminal patience to do well.

Mark Riches: Odds: 66-1: The World Duty Free boss has a model swing – part Kate Moss, part Model T Ford – but he’s consistent and from Tee 5 of course there’s simply no-one better. Untaxed by pressure this weekend, we expect a good performance but his odds of winning remain roughly the same as his beloved Norwich City taking out the Champion’s League anytime this century.

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Martyn Westbury (seen above warming up for the tournament using the classic John Daly technique ): Odds 20-1: It’s not often you get to play with a man from Mars so if he looks a bit spaced out, don’t worry, it’s normal. Other than that he’s good company, someone bound to offer you a Bounty bar on the first hole or, if you keep it till the 10th tee in Dubai conditions, a hot chocolate. Check the sell-by dates though – Mars is a long way away.

While his game is as solid as a Galaxy bar that’s been in the deep freezer, we think our amiable alien may have bitten off more than he can chew in this tournament. 

Patrick Dorais: Odds: 75 trillion to 1: A Canadian Swiss, whose game resembles a cross between a lumberjack and Roger Federer – he hits lots of timber and has a deadly slice. His Swiss cheese of a swing – full of holes – will be badly exposed on these testing courses and if he’s paired with Richard Ferne we’re all in for a late night.

At these odds you could bet a tenner and win $750 trillion… but actually you’d just lose your tenner. Despite working in the confectionery industry for years he has never once hit the sweet spot on a golf club – and probably shouldn’t be allowed in one.

Giles Marks: Odds 80-1: Another newcomer to the field, the man from Maui Jim sunglasses has generously provided a set for all his fellow players so they can avoid the glare off his Hawaiian shirt. With his trademark garb, which also includes bermuda shorts and flip flops, the affable Giles might be an outside contender today… or alternatively he could be kicked off the course. The blazing sunshine may also catch him out – he’s rumoured to only play well in the shades.

Ian Robertshaw: Odds 13-1: The Nestle man’s form looks as solid as a Kit-Kat Chunky and he could well be the early leader After Eight holes. The Smarties in the bookmaking community reckon he could still be leading by the finish… 

LADIES SECTION

Nadine Heubel: Odds: 25-1: The Fraulein of the Fairways, Nadine drives the ball like a Mercedes down a German Autobahn… though sadly usually in first gear. Determined to show who is Boss among the ladies this year, Nadine has been reading Richard Ferne’s indispensable guide to golf, “How to reach the Ladies’ tee in four shots or less” and could be strutting her stuff along the Dubai Duty Free prize-giving fashion catwalk come Monday evening.

Britt Riches: Odds 20-1: This proud Englishwoman, a true Britt if ever there was one, is lucky to even be here after narrowly avoiding being hit by a falling tree during the gale-like conditions at the MIS-HIT tournament on the opening day of the Cannes show. Wondering why her partner was yelling “four right!” when she hadn’t even hit her drive, the fairer of the Riches family suddenly realised that the cry was a reference to four branches that were falling from her right. The resultant Moodie BLOG headline, “Britt Riches nearly killed by Cannes-opener” said it all.  With the likelihood of wind in Dubai about the same as Richard Ferne completing his round before midnight, Britt will feel much safer here and could be among the contenders.

Jill McGuire: Odds: 10-1: The lovely Jill sings like an angel and, on her day, can play like one too. Expect a quality performance, the best-dressed woman on the course, and, as always, a smile whatever the result.

Nancy Miller: Odds: 2-1: Could this be a double whammy for the Miller family, with husband Art – the desert Rat – winning the men’s tournament and his gorgeous wife Nancy carrying off the ladies? We think so. Expect some hefty excess baggage charges on the Milllers’ flight back to Singapore.

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