Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Betting Preview

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Betting Tips

Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.

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Bet On The Abu Dhabi Championship

The Course

The National Course, Abu Dhabi Golf Club - UAE - 7,600 Yards, Par 72 The ever cosmopolitan European Tour heads out to the gulf this week for one of its richest and most prestigious tournaments at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The now iconic falcon shaped clubhouse that overlooks the 18th green at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club has become as much of a symbol of European Tour golf as the bridge over the Swilken Burn, and it has overlooked some high profile and high quality victors in the last 14 years. The likes of Paul Casey, Rickie Fowler, and Tommy Fleetwood (twice) have all held this trophy recently though only Fleetwood returns this year, albeit amongst a high class international field. Located on the coast some 15 minutes drive from Abu Dhabi centre, the National Course was designed by Peter Harradine who also supervised the design of Doha Golf Club in Qatar, and the two bare a number of similarities.

Abu Dhabi is an open, long, flat, and very exposed course and the performance and degree of difficulty is, as with many courses in the region, dictated by the elements. Despite being regularly lengthened and toughened (see more bunkering and added trees) since it was first opened, as Fleetwood and Lowry have shown in the past couple of years, the course is still susceptible to low scoring and will be attacked throughout the week by this field if the wind doesn't blow significantly (which it isn't forecast to). From the tee there are hazards, but the issue is that the players have to stray so far from the substantial fairways to find them. Over 50 fairway bunkers, some mean rough, and a couple of saltwater lakes are all in play at various times in the landing areas, but only the most errant of shots is likely to be punished. The green complexes are large and fast but soft and can easily become tricky to putt on throughout the week with spike marks adding an extra degree of difficulty to the putting. This is the reason why, looking back historically at the event, links players have performed so admirably; see Fleetwood, Kaymer, Lowry and Fowler who have all won in recent years. Abu Dhabi requires pure ball striking, large numbers of greens in regulation and seasoned, intelligent putting. It's a competitive field but will only suit a certain number of players, and course form is relevant more here than at most venues.

Last Five Winners

Year Winner Score
2019 Shane Lowry -20
2018 Tommy Fleetwood -22
2017 Tommy Fleetwood -17
2016 Rickie Fowler -16
2015 Gary Stal -19

The Market Leaders

In a highly competitive field, the market has established Tommy Fleetwood (9/1) and Patrick Cantlay (9/1) as the co favourites here in Abu Dhabi. Fleetwood who won here in both 2017, and again in 2018 was always going to lead claims, and his strong finish to 2017 where he won The Nedbank Challenge and then finished runner up in Turkey further adds credence to those chances. Tommy is an excellent player in any conditions, but his performances at The Open, US Open, and the Dunhill Links show just what an exceptional links player he is, and why he is so well suited to this open, often blustery course. Tommy's strengths lie in his exceptional iron play, and his ability to handle these types of greens, and with two wins here in the past two years, he cannot be ruled out going for the third timer. It's a competitive field, and Tommy hasn't played for eight weeks, but I expect the market to establish him as the standalone favourite in the coming days. Cantlay is more game ready having finished 4th at the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua a fortnight ago. That was only his second outing in the last three months, and his game looked in great shape as he narrowly missed out on a playoff. Cantlay doesn't have the links pedigree of Fleetwood, and has not played here competitively before. I expect a solid showing, but can't throw my support behind him at single figures.

It has been quite some time since Brooks Koepka (10/1) arrived at an event as the third favourite, but that is the case for the injury impeded American who lacks any competitive golf over recent months. Brooks' record in the middle east is average at best, with his 9th place here last year being his second best return amongst a smattering of missed cuts, and on the back of a 3 month absence it is hard to throw my weight behind the World number one with any degree of certainty. The course should suit him, certainly from tee to green, and there are holes at Abu Dhabi that he will simply be able to overpower, but that doesn't set him apart from the field, and the rustiness is a concern (even if fully fit). Louis Oosthuizen (14/1) did us a dis-service last week by again squandering a 54 hole lead, this time to fellow countryman Branden Grace at the South African Open. Oosty's game is in great condition, but he isn't getting the results that he should and seems to be undergoing some mental block on Sundays. His record here is stellar with three top 5s in his last 4 appearances, although he didn't play for six years prior to returning with a 4th placed finish in 2019. Louis has to be considered, I'd have wanted a slightly bigger price but the former Open Champions's credentials all stack up here.

Shane Lowry (18/1) is the defending champion, but had three consecutive missed cuts here beforehand. He finished fast in Hong Kong last week for a tied 2nd, but that venue is entirely different, and with the pressure of defending his title, I'm leaving Shane out of my plans this week. Matthew Fitzpatrick (18/1) has a 3rd here in 2018 along with some poor showings. He played well in Asia towards the end of last year, and can turn his game on at any time, but there are better value chances than him this week in my opinion.

Rob’s Golf Betting Tips

Headline Betting Tip

Martin Kaymer: 50/1 To Win

No player in modern professional golf has a record that stands up to that of Martin Kaymer when it comes to playing golf in the Middle East; with 6 of his 23 career victories coming in the region, and 3 of those have come in Abu Dhabi, back in 2008, 2010, and 2011; with three further top 6 finishes since. Kaymer has been in the golfing wilderness for a while with no wins since the 2015 Italian Open, but last year showed signs of recovery including a very impressive 5th place at the French Open on a similarly open and blustery course where he has won previously. That result could have been even better, but for failing to break 70 in the final round, and finishing 4 shots behind eventual winner Nicolas Colsaerts. Kaymer's troubles have always come off the tee and, though they continue, this is as forgiving a course as he is likely to encounter, and if he is going to get back into the winners circle this year, then there is no better place. Kaymer's iron play remains strong, and the putting surfaces will hold no fear for the three time champion who knows every subtle break and nuance. The price seems too big, and for me he is the stand out bet of the week with 3 points e/w at 50/1.

Other Betting Tips

Louis Oosthuizen: 14/1 To Win

I was reluctant to go back in on Oosty having been let down by him as our win only bet last week. Despite a comfortable final round lead (and a hole in 1), a bogey free 68 wasn't enough to see him over the line, and a final round 62 from Branden Grace saw him take home the spoils. The problem for Louis was simply a poor putting day. He hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation, but couldn't make the putts; a lot better than his weekend meltdown at The Nedbank, and something that gives cause for encouragement in Abu Dhabi. Louis is a fantastic links player (as is Kaymer) and as we have noted he was 4th last year, and has been inside the top 5 more often than not on his visits to the National Course. A savvy putter who has a long game as in touch as it has ever been, Oosthuizen is logically the favourite this week with so many at the top rusty from the Christmas break. Kaymer has the nod as the extra value, but i'm prepared to put my faith in Louis once again with 2 points e/w at 14/1.

Pablo Larrazabel: 80/1 To Win

Pablo Larrazabal is another who, like Kaymer, has enjoyed a disproportionate amount of success on his travels to the Middle East, and nowhere more so than in Abu Dhabi. Pablo picked up this title in 2014, and has two top 6 finishes in the past three years, including a tie with Dustin Johnson one shot behind Fleetwood in 2017. At the price, Pablo is a little bit of a no brainer around here, but that is made all the better value by his win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship last month in his last event where he beat Joel Sjoholm to the title. Pablo has taken a break following that win, but will be back eager to pick up where he left off, and I have no doubt that this event will have been on his mind throughout the break. He is a value bet for me with 2 points e/w at 80/1.

2020 P&L

Following a rolling profit of 463 points in 2019, I am looking for an even better 2020. Each week I will pick between 2 to 4 selections at each event on the European and PGA Tours, and suggest a suitable staking plan.

Tour Event
European Tour -11 Points
PGA Tour +50 Points
Total +39 Points

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