Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: European Tour 2020: Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Preview

European Tour 2020: Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Preview

Brooks Koepka putts the ball

In many people’s eyes, this event is really the first significant entry in the golfing calendar. It is the first Rolex Series of the year and officially kicks off the early Gulf swing.
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The European Tour 2020 | Rolex Series 
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Thursday 16 January 2020 - Sunday 19 January 2020

I was fairly surprised to see the quality of the field given the prevailing political tensions that are engulfing the region. Chris Di Marco - ever the man for an agonizing Major Championship near-miss - won the inaugural staging of this event as recently as 2006. That makes this only the 15th renewal of this event. Open Champion Shane Lowry will return to defend the title he won in wire-to-wire fashion last year. This should make for a great spectacle with some of the world’s top golfing talents in attendance.

Abu Dhabi Golf Club will once again host the event. The Peter Harradine design is really your typical desert golf challenge. It is a long, flat layout that is fairly exposed with plentiful bunkers.  Clearly, wind conditions will be a factor, giving this somewhat of a links feel: there has been a strong correlation between success here and broader links credentials. The rough is generally over-seeded, making it quite penal. Driving accuracy has proved slightly more important than distance here, though finding greens is paramount here. Nine of the last thirteen winners here have finished inside the top ten in GIR. Keep a close eye on guys in the field with desert golf abilities.

Brooks Koepka will be the headline act this week, making his long-awaited return from a knee injury suffered at last year’s CJ Cup. It will be intriguing to see what shape the World Number One is currently in. Two-time champion Tommy Fleetwood and red-hot American Patrick Cantlay are currently dominating the betting markets. Cantlay is joined by fellow Ryder-Cup player Bryson DeChambeau. Defending champion and Open champion Shane Lowry will look to shrug off some indifferent post-Open form. Elsewhere the likes of Louis Oosthuizen and Matthew Fitzpatrick make for a star-studded Rolex Series event.

Past Winners
2019: Shane Lowry (-18)
2018: Tommy Fleetwood (-22)
2017: Tommy Fleetwood (-17)
2016: Ricky Fowler (-16)
2015: Gary Stal (-19)

Outright Betting (To Win)
Tommy Fleetwood (15/2)
Patrick Cantlay (9/1)
Brooks Koepka (11/1)
Louis Oosthuizen (14/1)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (16/1)

Value Bets

Matthias Schwab
To Win (40/1), To Place (17/2)
Matthias Schwab quietly went about compiling a stellar 2019 campaign. The Austrian youngster did just about everything aside from capture that maiden European Tour title. His consistency was staggering, with a whopping ten top 10 finishes. Condensing that further, he managed to pick up six top 5’s in that span. He finished 6th in strokes gained throughout the year and 10th in Eagles per round. That last stat should prove significant around this desert layout. He finished in a respectable tie for 22nd last year on debut and should be primed for an improved performance this year.

Martyn Kaymer
To Win (70/1), To Place (15/1)
The former World Number One Kaymer has an absolute love affair with this event. In its relatively short history, he has tasted success on three occasions. He also memorably blew an eight-shot lead in 2015, allowing the unheralded Gary Stal to pip him at the post. Kaymer’s form obviously went through an inexplicable dip: last year was the first in ages in which he lost his Open exemption. Remember, this is a man who has won a US Open, US PGA Championship and Players Championship. He is still a young man at 35 and looks to have rediscovered a semblance of form. Last year he became competitive again, with a slew of top 10 and 20 finishes to his name. Kaymer is a dangerous outsider at 70/1.

The Man to Beat

Branden Grace
To Win (30/1), To Place (13/2)
This is a risky proposition considering Grace’s pre-SA Open form. It also debatable how much stock you can put in a performance at an admittedly low-tier event such as the SA Open. But Grace surged to that title in commanding fashion, shooting a nine-under in his final round. Grace has a proven desert pedigree, winning the Qatar Masters twice. Grace has also shown in Major Championship golf that he can mix it with the best. Grace has decent course history, with figures that read MC-5-52-20-5-13-15-27. Grace has shown in the past the ability to back up after a victory. His 2nd and 3rd career victories came in consecutive weeks at the Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Championship. Grace is an attractive bet in conditions that he loves.  

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