Expert Picks: Omega Dubai Desert Classic

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This week marks the final event of the European Tour's three-week Desert Swing, as many of the game's best tee it up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. It's also another first two-event week for fantasy in 2014, as our experts' picks for the PGA Tour's Waste Management Phoenix Open can be seen HERE. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributor John Hawkins; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; staff writer Ryan Lavner and defending fantasy champion Charlie Rymer.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: In his last two starts in the Middle East, he's finished fifth (DP World Tour Championship) and runner-up (Abu Dhabi) and has spent the last week practicing in Dubai.

Group 2: Thorbjorn Olesen: The Dane finished third last week in Qatar and has played some of his best golf in the Middle East.

Group 3: Dawie van der Walt: Been a fan of the big South African since his college days at Lamar University, and his top-10 finish last week was a sign that he's ready to break through.

Group 4: Robert Rock: A bit of a flyer here considering he hasn't finished in the top 20 anywhere in the world in four months, but he stunned a stellar field just down the road in Abu Dhabi in 2012 and a win this week would qualify as a stunner.


Jason Sobel

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Playing in the same pairing as Tiger Woods in the first two rounds should be a little motivation for the man whose game appears to have returned.

Group 2: Thorbjorn Olesen: A third-place finish in Qatar last week should have him building some momentum heading into Dubai.

Group 3: Romain Wattel: Remember this name. The young Frenchman is starting to turn potential into performance.

Group 4: Edoardo Molinari: Mired in Group 4 because of recent injuries, it's only a matter of time before talent prevails once again.


John Antonini

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: I'm tempted to go with Jamie Donaldson, but Group 1 is no place to play hunches. Besides, McIlroy is a past champ at Emirates GC (won in 2009 at age 19) and he could have - some would say should have - won in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago. He's in form.

Group 2: Miguel Angel Jimenez: He's already the oldest winner in European Tour history and has his sights set on becoming Europe's oldest Ryder Cupper. There's no better place to make a statement than at Dubai, the big-time tournament that he won in 2010.

Group 3: Romain Wattel: The Frenchman was T-12 in Dubai in 2012, but more importantly he's been playing well of late. He had two top-five finishes in Africa in December and was T-11 last week in Qatar.

Group 4: Robert Rock: The hatless wonder has a history of surprising people in the Middle East. He also finished seventh a year ago in Dubai and was a respectable T-22 last week in Qatar.


Randall Mell

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Hard to pick against him when he's driving it so well. You can see the confidence rushing back.

Group 2: Miguel Angel Jimenez: The Spaniard's really got something going on so far this year, and the ageless Jimenez will keep it going.

Group 3: Seung-Yul Noh: Nice little top-10 finish last week at Torrey Pines to get the confidence up.

Group 4: Robert Rock: Decent showing in Qatar last week (T-22) and nice showing in Dubai last year (T-7).