UG Tips: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
We’re making our first foray onto the European Tour of the season – due in the most part to the stellar field assembled this week in Abu Dhabi. Though shorn of the extra sparkle of Rory McIlroy, the tournament still boasts seven major winners and 80 European Tour winners so should offer plenty of competition.
Heading the market are Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson who both come in off the back of life-changing years last season and are sporting odds reflecting their stellar play. Both possess a game that is ideally suited to the examination of the Abu Dhabi course.
Traditionally the leaderboard in dominated by longer hitters who can take advantage of the par 5’s and reduce the lengthy par 4’s into more manageable holes. Being the first tournament in a while for many of the players there will no doubt be a little bit of suck it and see with our picks, but we’re going for some guys who have some strong hints toward performing well here.
Thomas Pieters 22/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £295
Aside from last season’s disappointing week here, the huge hitting Belgian has fond memories of the tournament having placed 2nd and 4th the previous years he knows he can get it done. He has a huge advantage of being able to hit 9 iron or wedge when other players are going in with 5 iron so we are expecting that, armed with his length and huge confidence from the Ryder Cup, that he will start the year that could change his life very strongly indeed.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello 25/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £332.50
Another of our Ryder Cup star debutants and another big hitter! His record here is so-so, but he does feel at home here and is starting to develop into a world class player. He is picking his starts carefully and ensures that he is really well prepared each week that he tees it up, which is reflected in his consistently strong finishes. He may not have won for a while, but he is on everyone’s radar now and it’s surely only a matter of time.
Byeong Hun An 28/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £370
The BMW PGA Champion is coming in off a nice break, but his form in the UAE is on the verge of ridiculous: he’s played 8 events here and NEVER finished outside the top 15! He’s got a sweet swing and hits a lot of greens (top 10 GIR) which should add up to another run at the title this year.
Martin Kaymer 30/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £395
Nobody in the field has more good experiences at this venue than Kaymer. His 3 wins here may have been a little while ago but even through his indifferent periods he has always excelled here. He’s able to play his natural game here which for some inexplicable reason he tried to change for a while – and he’s coming off some intensive practice in the desert in the US, which is something he’s not had the luxury of in his recent visits here. We felt that he was showing signs of coming back to form at the end of last season and if that’s correct then this week is right in his wheelhouse.
Thorbjorn Olesen 60/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £385
Really surprised to see his odds this long! He’s been runner-up here and comes in off a fairly recent win at the Turkish Airlines. He may not be as prolific a winner as his talent suggests he should be but he has an incredible record on the Middle East swing. He’s sometimes taken a week to limber up, but rest assured we’ll be going with him next week too so just keep a close eye out.
Ryan Fox 150/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £1103.75
We’re excited to see this New Zealand Challenge Tour graduate this season. He performed really well at that level last year and added a fine Open Championship debut to his resume also. He hits the ball a country mile and over the winter showed that he felt at home in the early season events in Australia and in South Africa. If he feels comfortable this week then he has the ability to go really well.