Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship | Thursday 15 January - Sunday 18 January | Abu Dhabi GC
The European Tour will head to the UAE for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship this week and given the quality of the field that this tournament has attracted this is going to be an event to keep an eye on. This year a host of big names have made the trip to Abu Dhabi and as it stands Rory McIlroy is firm favourite and is available at 4/1. There is little doubt as to his ability and he certainly looks to have a real chance but at that price I’d rather look elsewhere for more value. The course measures just over 7,600 yards and plays long but it’s nothing that a majority of this field haven’t dealt with before so don’t place too much emphasis on length off the tee. Rather, focus should be on accuracy as strategically placed bunkers, saltwater lakes and penal rough threaten to punish any wayward shots. If players can avoid these hazards they will also have to deal with quick greens, so accurate iron play will also be a key stat. With this being the first big event after the Christmas break it’s going to be interesting to see who arrives with their game in check.
To Win Outright
Henrik Stenson 9/1
Justin Rose 9/1
Martin Kaymer 14/1
Rickie Fowler 14/1
Henrik Stenson (9/1 a win, 19/10 a place)
Henrik Stenson played some good golf in the UAE last year and will arrive here looking to repeat the performance he put in at the Tour Championship last year, where he successfully defended his title. He’s also had some great finishes on this course in the past although those all came a number of years ago. He has the game to handle the course and should be able to avoid the hazards he’ll face with almost every shot. If he’s not too rusty after the Christmas break Stenson should go far. Each way is the bet for me.
Branden Grace (45/1 a win, 99/10 a place)
Branden Grace is playing some great golf at the moment and it would be foolish to ignore the talented South African this week. He has a bit of course form as he finished fifth here two years ago and his current form is pretty outstanding. An easy win in the Alfred Dunhill at the end of last year shows his game is in a good place at the moment and he’ll be confident he can do well this week. Again, each way is the bet for me.
Martin Kaymer (14/1 a win, 3/1 a place)
If you subscribe to the horses for courses strategy then you simply cannot leave Martin Kaymer out this week. He’s won this event three times over the years and has also managed to finish runner-up and inside the Top 10 on two other occasions. He played some great golf last year and for the past few months has been worth keeping an eye on. I think that this week he’ll go close. A second place finish in Thailand not so long ago shows his game is in a good place at the moment so keep an eye on the German this week.
Pablo Larrazabal (70/1 a win, 15/1 a place)
This week it looks like Pablo Larrazabal has a real chance of defending his title as he will arrive in Abu Dhabi brimming with confidence and eager to get 2015 off to a winning start. Despite the fact that he can be frustratingly inconsistent, which I’m choosing to ignore this week, he managed to pull off a host of solid finishes towards the end of last year and found himself in the Top 20 four times in six starts. He may not be as talented as some of the other players in this field but on his day he can give them all a run for their money and at this price he cannot be ignored. Each way is the bet for me here.