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BlogAbu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Preview and Picks

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

January 17 – 19, 2014

Abu Dhabi G.C.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $3.45 Million

with $430,386 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jamie Donaldson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 12 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with four top-10 in the field: #3 Henrik Stenson, #5 Phil Mickelson, #7 Rory McIlroy and #10 Sergio Garcia. The other top-50 in the field are #19 Luke Donald,  #24 Thomas Bjorn, #25 Jamie Donaldson, #30 Victor Dubuisson,  #39 Miguel Angel Jimenez, #43 Martin Kaymer,  #45 Matteo Manassero and #46 Thongchai Jaidee.

The field includes 19 of the Top-25 on the Race to Dubai standings for 2014.  Those players are #1 Thomas Bjorn, #4 Jamie Donaldson, #5 Sergio Garcia, #6 Branden Grace, #7 Morten Orum Madsen, #8 Dawie Van Der Walt, #9 Henrik Stenson, #10 Joost Luiten, #12 Miguel A. Jimenez, #14 Tommy Fleetwood, #15 Victor Dubuisson, #17 JBE Kurger, #19 Romain Wattel, #20 Peter Uihlein, #21 Darren Fichardt, #22 Jorge Campillo, #23 Matteo Manassero, T24 Padraig Harrington and T24 Raphael Jacquelin.

The field includes four of the five past champions: Jamie Donaldson (2013), Robert Rock (2012), Martin Kaymer (2011, ’10 & ’08) and Paul Casey (2009 & ’07).  Only one not in the field is Chris DiMarco (2006).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship field is our performance chart listed by average finish. One last way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship  in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Player Volvo Golf Champions The Nelson Mandela Championship Nedbank Golf Challenge UBS Hong Kong Open Alfred Dunhill Championship South African Open Championship DP World Championship Dubai Turkish Airlines Open HSBC Champions BMW Masters
Jamie Donaldson
(184 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(25)
2
(33.33)
T8
(16.67)
T34
(5.33)
Victor Dubuisson
(181 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(45)
Win
(44)
DNP T44
(2)
Thomas Bjorn
(180.17 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(14.5)
T18
(10.67)
T39
(3.67)
T5
(23.33)
Branden Grace
(170.67 pts)
2
(100)
T6
(40)
T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T52
(0)
T29
(7)
T39
(3.67)
T61
(0)
Joost Luiten
(161.67 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP 4
(40)
T18
(10.67)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
Henrik Stenson
(149.33 pts)
DNP DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(66)
T7
(18.33)
T31
(6.33)
T34
(5.33)
Miguel A. Jimenez
(148 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP T8
(25)
T70
(0)
72
(0)
60
(0)
Tommy Fleetwood
(117.17 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(6.5)
T36
(4.67)
T18
(10.67)
T34
(5.33)
Dawie Van der walt
(115.67 pts)
33
(17)
Win
(88)
24
(17.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Morten Orum Madsen
(109 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP T16
(11.33)
Win
(44)
DNP T63
(0)
DNP DNP
Raphael Jacquelin
(97 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T44
(3)
T5
(23.33)
73
(0)
T48
(0.67)
Jorge Campillo
(95.33 pts)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T24
(17.33)
T44
(2)
T22
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(93.33 pts)
DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 4
(26.67)
DNP
Matteo Manassero
(84.83 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(14.5)
T44
(2)
T21
(9.67)
DNP
Romain Wattel
(80 pts)
DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Thomas Aiken
(79.33 pts)
T8
(50)
T35
(10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T17
(11)
55
(0)
T15
(11.67)
DNP T61
(0)
Padraig Harrington
(78 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP T27
(7.67)
Darren Fichardt
(76.83 pts)
35
(15)
T50
(0.67)
T12
(25.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T37
(4.33)
T21
(14.5)
T15
(11.67)
T61
(0)
T24
(8.67)
Jbe Kruger
(76.67 pts)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP T24
(17.33)
T52
(0)
T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Martin Kaymer
(75.5 pts)
DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(15.5)
T25
(8.33)
T8
(16.67)
T13
(12.33)
Thongchai Jaidee
(73.17 pts)
DNP DNP 9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(1.5)
T29
(7)
T46
(1.33)
T2
(33.33)
Paul Casey
(70.33 pts)
T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 54
(0)
T12
(12.67)
20
(10)
T8
(16.67)
Ross Fisher
(70 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
T22
(9.33)
T26
(12)
T10
(13.33)
DNP T34
(5.33)
Julien Quesne
(69.5 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T47
(1.5)
T12
(12.67)
DNP T34
(5.33)
Luke Donald
(68.33 pts)
DNP DNP 19
(20.67)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(35)
DNP T31
(6.33)
T31
(6.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Player Volvo Golf Champions The Nelson Mandela Championship Nedbank Golf Challenge UBS Hong Kong Open Alfred Dunhill Championship South African Open Championship DP World Championship Dubai Turkish Airlines Open HSBC Champions BMW Masters
Fabrizio Zanotti
(-16.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Peter Lawrie
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adrian Otaegui
(-13.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Joachim B Hansen
(-10.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP
Kristoffer Broberg
(-9.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Edoardo Molinari
(-8 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T47
(2)
CUT
(-3.33)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jeev Milkha Singh
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Gaganjeet Bhullar
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T63
(0)
DNP
Eddie Pepperell
(-6.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

A very important next three weeks for the European Tour it’s the desert swing, three weeks in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  First this week is the Abu Dhabi Championship which is being held in one of the fastest growing cities in the world.  It also has a great field and is being played on a good course.  The importance of this event is to get the European Tour off to a great start and the next couple of weeks will have marquee names along with the best players in the world.

Unfortunely both Justin Rose (injury) and Ernie Els (time at home) couldn’t make it, still this week’s event will have the best field in golf.

One person playing this week with an interesting story is China’s Wen Yi Huang.  The 33 year-old who took up the game 12 years ago and was a day labourer in China just a decade ago is now a regular on the European Tour after finishing T30th at the Hong Kong Open.  He got his big break when he finished T7th at the BMW International in April and he needs another good finish if he wants to continue his dream of playing on the European Tour.

Playing this week which could create some “buzz” is Simon Dyson.  In December the European Tour found that broke a rule by tapping down a spike mark during the BMW Masters.  Now the Tour went as far as saying that it wasn’t a “premeditated act of cheating” but did slap him with a suspension and $45,000 in fines for his act.

Also the European Tour and the Irish Open has announced that Fota Island will be the site if this year’s Irish Open.  The last time the title was played at Fota Island was in 2002 when Soren Hansen won and the reason for it going back is simply financial.  The resort has been purchased by Chinese investors The Kang Group and will become the official sponsor of the event along with hosting it.  Now I don’t want to sound like it’s not a good course, it is.  Unfortunely the Ireland we all know is courses along the sea like Ballybunion, Portrush, Portmarnock and European Club and would like for the event to one day go to some of these clubs.

Course Information – Abu Dhabi Golf Club

Part of a 27-hole club that was built and opened in 1998.  The course was designed by Peter Harradine. The course was carved straight out of the desert and requires about a half a million gallons of water a day to keep in shape.  The holes weaves through undulating terrain that features pockets of palms, ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as seven spectacular saltwater lakes. The course provides a tough but fair challenge, with lush fairways, water coming in play on 11 holes, 90 strategically placed bunkers and big greens which are Bermuda Tifdwarf.  Fairways are paspalum while the rough is Rye.

Since the course was first used 8 years ago, several changes are made each year with new tees adding more distance, bunkers have been changed and greens changed to add more challenging pin positions.  For this year some changes was the additional of bunkers at the 11th making the fairway harder to hit and the green more testing to hit.  The tee was also changed at 18, moving it to the left and raised by 15 feet.  This will bring the fairway bunkers more into play and make the hole more challenging.

Golf’s DL injury report

Interesting to note that not only did Louis Oostuizen win the first event of a new year for the fourth year in a row (also won 2011 & ’12 Africa Open and 2013 & ’14 Volvo Golf Champions but he did it off the disabled list.  As we mentioned last week Oosthuizen has suffered pain in his back since the U.S. Open but it looks like the injections he had in his joints of the vertebra has done it’s job.  He told media that he isn’t perfect yet, as he said he got a “few little niggles” through his back and is hoping that it gets better.  He will take the next three weeks off in South Africa resting and working on his game, then return to the Northern Trust in Los Angeles.

Jeev Milkha Singh says that his Index finger injury, which has plagued him for a year now is finally pain-free.  He did it with a reduce schedule in 2013 and will be looking to get back to the level of play he experienced when he won the Scottish Open in 2012 when he got as low as 84th in the world rankings.  Things have been tough, in his last 19 events he only has made four cuts with a best finish of T36th in last months Thailand Open.  With his poor play he has plummeted to 277 in the World Rankings and is hoping to get off to a great start this week.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the ABU Dhabi Golf Championship:

Key stat for the winner:

In looking at the stats of the winners that last four years, what sticks out as very important is hitting lot’s of greens.  Kaymer was T1st in that stat in 2011 and every winner in last 5 years except for Kaymer in 2010 finished in the top-ten in that category.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Martin Kaymer  mastered the par 4s, he was 10 under in 2010 and 14 under in 2011.  2009 champion Paul Casey was the worst at 4 under while Jamie Donaldson was 5 under last year.
  • Length is always important as those in contention are high up in driving distance.  In looking at someone that has done well in that stat, Rory McIlroy got better each year in distance and finish as he was T5th in 2009, 3rd in 2010 and 2nd in 2011 and ’12.  Only problem, he missed the cut last year, but I don’t see that happening again this year.
  • In the 8 years the tournament has been played only once has the champion shot over par.  That was Martin Kaymer in the final round of 2008 when he shot 74, but the wind was gusting up to 45 mph that day.
  • It’s very unique to think that in the eight year history of this event Paul Casey has won it twice and Martin Kaymer won it three times, horses for courses.

Who to watch for at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT 2 2 3 T5 T11

He is in a different state than what he was in a year ago, feel he will have a great year and start it off with a big win here. Other than missing the cut last year, his record is great in this event so don’t hesitate in taking him.

Sergio Garcia

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T12 T13 T8 T14 3

Why do I think that this will be a good year for him. He seems very happy and in love (yes again), think that could be an important key for him fulfilling his destiny.

Branden Grace

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
5 CUT

Watch him this week, has two great finishes in a row under his belt and comes to a course that he played well on last year.

Best of the rest:

Phil Mickelson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T37

Lot’s of hype due to his new driver, still his record playing in the desert is great with seven U.S. wins in the desert. Now we just don’t know which Phil will show up, he could be a bit tired with the travel, still he has won before on these flights so don’t be surprise to see Phil play in any direction. Sorry that I can’t make up my mind but it is Phil.

Martin Kaymer

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T6 CUT Win Win T2 Win CUT

Is the king of Abu Dhabi, I see him in contention again and have a better season.

Paul Casey

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T23 T18 T27 Win CUT Win T45

Another player that knows how to win here, again he is always hard to judge but if he is healthy he could be good.

Peter Hanson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 T35 CUT T11 T10 T43 T2 T61

Have always wonder why he hasn’t achieved great things, his back was dodgy but it’s better now.

Henrik Stenson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T23 CUT T42 T21 CUT T2 8 2

Was the best last year but still wonder if he is healthy, guess we will find out by Friday but I am still a bit hesitant on him.

Solid contenders

Thorbjorn Olesen

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T2 T8

Has been very in inconsistence in every event except for this one which he seems to have a grasp of. Still you got to like him, even though he only has played here twice.

Thomas Bjorn

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T52 T3 CUT T43 CUT T67 T47 T24

Can’t say anything but good things about him, working hard on his game and it shows, look for a good week from him.

George Coetzee

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 T6

Ended 2013 on a downer but I see him doing very well on this week. Course is good for his game, is 18 under in the 8 rounds he has played here.

Jamie Donaldson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win T30 T11 T21 T50 T23 CUT

Don’t count him out, plays well on this course.

Long shots that could come through:

David Howell

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T6 CUT T23 T64 WD CUT CUT

Can see a big comeback from him in 2014 and it will start this week.

Joost Luiten

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T6 T42 T23

Played great of late, still needs some seasoning on this course but could surprise us.

Victor Dubuisson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT CUT

Has missed the cut in both of his Abu Dhabi starts but see him not only making the cut this year but also playing well.