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BlogAbu Dhabi Preview and Picks

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

January 16th – 19th, 2020

Abu Dhabi G.C.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,583

Purse: $7 million

with $1,139,894 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Shane Lowry

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

30 players in the field are in the top-100 of the Latest Official World Rankings.  The field includes 13 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with two top-10s in the field: #1 Brooks Koepka, #6 Patrick Cantlay and #10 Tommy Fleetwood.  The other top-50 in the field are, #18 Louis Oosthuizen  #19 Shane Lowry, #23 Bernd Wiesberger, #26 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #29 Danny Willett, #32 Matt Wallace, #41 Sergio Garcia, #42 Rafael Cabrera Bello, #45 Victor Perez and #46 Ian Poulter.

Last year 14 top-50 players were in the field

The field includes 14 of the Top-25 on the final Race to Dubai standings for 2020.  Those players are #1 Branden Grace, #2 Pablo Larrazabal, #3 Rasmus Hojgaard, #6 Louis Oosthuizen, #7 Renato Paratore, #10 Charl Schwartzel, #12 Marcus Armitage, #16 George Coetzee, #17 Thomas Detry, #19 Grant Forrest, #20 Wade Ormsby, #22 Zander Lombard, #23 Benjamin Hebert and #24 Calum Hill.

The field includes six of the ten different past champions: Shane Lowry (2019), Tommy Fleetwood (2017 & ’18), Pablo Larrazabal (2014), Jamie Donaldson (2013), Robert Rock (2012) and Martin Kaymer (2011, ’10 & ’08).

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 the 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 South African Sentry T of C Australian PGA Mauritius Open Dunhill Champ. DP World, Dubai Nedbank Challenge RSM Classic Turkish Airlines Mayakoba Classic WGC HSBC Champions Portugal Masters
Branden Grace
(165.67 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
DNP T39
(3.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(165 pts)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(15)
T6
(20)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(30)
DNP
Thomas Detry
(122.33 pts)
T28
(22)
DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T28
(11)
T3
(30)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP DNP DNP
George Coetzee
(106.67 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
T24
(8.67)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP 66
(0)
DNP DNP T14
(12)
Benjamin Hebert
(101.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T38
(6)
T24
(8.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP
Andy Sullivan
(96.67 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(20)
61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Tommy Fleetwood
(94 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(50)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP
Renato Paratore
(91.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
Marcus Armitage
(86 pts)
3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Erik Van Rooyen
(83 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(11)
T30
(6.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP
Patrick Cantlay
(80 pts)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rasmus Hojgaard
(78.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Victor Perez
(75 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(15)
DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Matthias Schwab
(75 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(15)
DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Thomas Pieters
(72.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T6
(30)
T30
(6.67)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP DNP
Tom Lewis
(65 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(30)
T13
(12.33)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Robert MacIntyre
(64 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(18)
T8
(16.67)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP
Wade Ormsby
(64 pts)
DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T38
(4)
DNP DNP DNP
Marcus Kinhult
(61.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(17)
2
(33.33)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP DNP
Pablo Larrazabal
(56.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP 69
(0)
DNP DNP T14
(12)
Jason Scrivener
(56.33 pts)
DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T10
(20)
T3
(30)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Paul Waring
(54.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(18)
T24
(8.67)
DNP 16
(11.33)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(54.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 9
(22.5)
T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP 7
(18.33)
DNP
Zander Lombard
(52 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T26
(16)
T7
(18.33)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP 72
(0)
DNP
Guido Migliozzi
(52 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(17)
T21
(9.67)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP T14
(12)
Grant Forrest
(50 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Mike Lorenzo-Vera
(49 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(45)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T38
(4)
DNP
Kurt Kitayama
(48.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 48
(1)
T30
(6.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP
Brandon Stone
(48 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
Steven Brown
(46.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP T70
(0)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
Gavin Green
(45 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
(44.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T12
(19)
T24
(8.67)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP
Romain Langasque
(44 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T40
(5)
T30
(6.67)
DNP 9
(15)
DNP T46
(1.33)
DNP
Joost Luiten
(42 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(15)
T10
(13.33)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(41.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(11)
T3
(30)
DNP 49
(0.33)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player South African Sentry T of C Australian PGA Mauritius Open Dunhill Champ. DP World, Dubai Nedbank Challenge RSM Classic Turkish Airlines Mayakoba Classic WGC HSBC Champions Portugal Masters
David Howell
(-28.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
WD
(-1.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Richard McEvoy
(-19.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.33)
David Drysdale
(-15.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T36
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP 73
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Francesco Laporta
(-13.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Callum Shinkwin
(-13.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Sebastian Heisele
(-10 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
James Morrison
(-10 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Chris Wood
(-10 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 68
(0)
Alexander Bjork
(-9.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.33)
David Law
(-8.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T43
(4.67)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz

A very important next three weeks for the European Tour it’s the desert swing.  With the PGA Tour beefing up the Florida swing with the Players Championship now played to March, it seems that the marquee players will be in the United States for most of March.  With that, there is Abu Dhabi, Dubai, along with a new event the Saudi International.  After that, the tour moves to Australia for a week and then the Oman Open and the Qatar Masters in March.  The only problem, since most of the marquee players will be in the United States, the fields will be very poor for the Oman Open, Qatar Masters, Kenya Open and the Hero Indian Open.  Now Abu Dhabi and Dubai have gotten marquee names in the past, but players like Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, and Rory McIlory will not be at any of the events. Next week in Dubai, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter along with Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, and Stenson will be playing, but still, it’s not like it used to be.  In the past the three tournament Desert Swing was a big deal for the European Tour, taking players away from West Coast events on the PGA Tour.  But as an example, European Tour names like Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson will be in Singapore while Paul Casey and Francesco Molinari will be in Palm Springs instead.  Showing how weak the fields have gotten, in 2012 at Abu Dhabi 19 Top-50 ranked players were in the field (compared to 13 this year).

So the landscape of these events has changed, still, the next two events are important as the Abu Dhabi purse will be $7 million and next week at Dubai the purse will be $3.25 while the week after that the new Saudi International will have a $3.5 million purse.  Another upgrade for the Abu Dhabi Championship it’s been upgraded to one of eight Rolex Series events.

No Dustin

After playing three straight years in Abu Dhabi, Dustin Johnson won’t play a fourth.  Can’t blame him, his best finish was T-2nd in 2017 and since was T-9th in 2018 and T-16th last year.  In a way I can understand it, he played last year in Saudi International and won it, so he goes back to defend that title, but no matter what money he got under the table, it wasn’t enough to get him to play in Abu Dhabi.  Does this mean he won’t ever be back, no.  But have to think that it’s a hard deal to go over there and play when he can play on the west coast in events he likes.

But Brooks is back

Brooks Koepka has not been himself even though he defended his championship at the PGA Championship, was 2nd at the U.S. Open, T-4th at the British Open and won the WGC-FedEx Invitational.  He struggled through the FedEx Cup playoffs, finishing 4th but after that Tour Championship and then told everyone that his left knee was giving him problems.  He had stem-cell treatments the next week and rested for six weeks before returning to the Shriners Hospitals Open.  He missed the cut, flew over to Korea and slipped re hurting the patella tendon in the knee.  He spent the following month rehabbing but the pain was excruciating.  He got the green light right before Christmas and it felt better.  It’s not 100% but good enough for him to make the trip to Abu Dhabi, he played last year and finished T-9th.  In an interview in Abu Dhabi, he told media that he misses the competition, especially the Presidents Cup but feels ready now.  He is rusty but feels his game is not that far off.  He will take next week off and play in Saudi International the week after and then play at the Genesis and then Honda.  Still many will wonder if he is worth the gamble this week.  Probably not since he is $10,800 in DraftKings this week, but we will see what happens in the future.  Hopefully, he will get some reps this week and be ready to go by the time he plays in Los Angeles next month.

One person to watch

Viktor Hovland is playing in Abu Dhabi for the first time and you have to think he will be a factor.  In the Hero Challenge, he beat Louis Oosthuizen so you have to think that many will consider him.  Hovland is just 22 years old and earns a PGA Tour card by finishing T-11th in the Nationwide Children’s’ Championship and then T-2nd in the Albertsons Boise Open.  In those two starts, he finished 6th in the Korn Ferry Finals, thus getting his PGA Tour card.  He became the first player since Matt Kuchar in 1998 to be the low amateur at the Masters Tournament and the U.S. Open in the same season. Collected five top-25s in 10 starts on the PGA Tour, highlighted by a 4th place finish at the Wyndham Championship.  So watch him this week.

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 weave 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 into 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 13 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.  In 2017 the players found a few new strategically positioned bunkers and a new 18th tee, which has been elevated to the left of the old tee and gives a unique and more challenging perspective to the closing par five.

Last year green extensions on holes seven and nine were the most notable changes — the seventh green has been extended increasing the putting surface. The ninth green has also been extended, again providing the opportunity for more challenging pin positions bringing the large greenside bunker into play.

Another small but notable amendment for 2017 is on the picturesque par-three fourth hole, where a slight change in the green contours adds to the degree of difficulty. Now a ball landing to the right of the pin risks feeding off the green and down the tightly mowed fringe to find the water hazard.  For the first time in a while, players will see very little changes to the course.

DraftKings Tips

Looking for some good picks at Abu Dhabi

*Of the 132 in the field, 113 have played at least once at Abu Dhabi.

Here are the players that have played in two or more Abu Dhabi’s and had the most under par totals since 2010:

  • Martin Kaymer is -109 under in 38 rounds playing 10 years
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello is -67 under in 38 rounds playing 10 years
  • Joost Luiten is -65 under in 32 rounds playing 8 years
  • Pablo Larrazabal is -58 under in 34 rounds playing 10 years
  • Branden Grace is -57 under in 30 rounds playing 8 years
  • Jamie Donaldson is -56 under in 30 rounds playing 8 years
  • Ross Fisher is -55 under in 30 rounds playing 8 years
  • Thomas Bjorn is -54 under in 34 rounds playing 9 years
  • Bernd Wiesberger is -49 under in 28 rounds playing 8 years
  • George Coetzee is -47 under in 28 rounds playing 8 years
  • Thomas Pieters is -47 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years
  • Ian Poulter is -45 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years
  • Maximilian Kieffer is -42 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years
  • Tommy Fleetwood is -42 under in 24 rounds playing 8 years
  • Richard Sterne is -36 under in 12 rounds playing 3 years
  • Nicolas Colsaerts is -34 under in 24 rounds playing 7 years
  • Thongchai Jaidee is -32 under in 28 rounds playing 9 years
  • Jorge Campillo is -30 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Charl Schwartzel is -29 under in 12 rounds playing 3 years
  • Louis Oosthuizen is -29 under in 10 rounds playing 3 years
  • David Horsey is -26 under in 34 rounds playing 10 years
  • Scott Hend is -26 under in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Sergio Garcia is -26 under in 12 rounds playing 3 years
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick is -25 under in 12 rounds playing 4 years
*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)
  • Richard Sterne is -36 under, playing 3 years (-12.0)
  • Martin Kaymer is -109 under, playing 10 years (-10.9)
  • Charl Schwartzel is -29 under, playing 3 years (-9.7)
  • Louis Oosthuizen is -29 under, playing 3 years (-9.7)
  • Sergio Garcia is -26 under, playing 3 years (-8.7)
  • Joost Luiten is -65 under, playing 8 years (-8.1)
  • Dean Burmester is -24 under, playing 3 years (-8.0)
  • Matt Wallace is -16 under, playing 2 years (-8.0)
  • Thomas Pieters is -47 under, playing 6 years (-7.8)
  • Jeunghun Wang is -23 under, playing 3 years (-7.7)
  • Ian Poulter is -45 under, playing 6 years (-7.5)
  • Thomas Detry is -15 under, playing 2 years (-7.5)
  • Ryan Fox is -22 under, playing 3 years (-7.3)
  • Branden Grace is -57 under, playing 8 years (-7.1)
  • Jamie Donaldson is -56 under, playing 8 years (-7.0)
  • Maximilian Kieffer is -42 under, playing 6 years (-7.0)
  • Ross Fisher is -55 under, playing 8 years (-6.9)
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello is -67 under, playing 10 years (-6.7)
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick is -25 under, playing 4 years (-6.3)
  • Bernd Wiesberger is -49 under, playing 8 years (-6.1)
  • Thomas Bjorn is -54 under, playing 9 years (-6.0)
  • Jason Scrivener is -18 under, playing 3 years (-6.0)
  • George Coetzee is -47 under, playing 8 years (-5.9)
  • Pablo Larrazabal is -58 under, playing 10 years (-5.8)
  • Alexander Bjork is -17 under, playing 3 years (-5.7)
  • Jordan L Smith is -17 under, playing 3 years (-5.7)
  • Tommy Fleetwood is -42 under, playing 8 years (-5.3)

Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week looking at those making the most eagles and birdies:

So it makes sense that the top players on this list are guys that will make lot’s of points this week

*Here are the guys that are very costly this week:
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $11,400
  • Patrick Cantlay – $11,200
  • Brooks Koepka – $10,800
  • Louis Oosthuizen – $10,300
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick – $10,100
  • Shane Lowry – $9,800
  • Bryson Dechambeau – $9,400
  • Branden Grace – $9,600
  • Viktor Hovland – $9,300
  • Thomas Pieters – $9,200
  • Robert Macintyre – $9,100
  • Bernd Wiesberger – $9,000

I can see why Tommy Fleetwood is the most expensive player at $11,400.  He won the Nedbank and was 2nd at the DP World Dubai so he finished 2019 in a great way. After taking some time off he seems ready to go.  Remember he won twice in 2017 and ’18 but then fell flat on his face last year finish T-42nd.  Frankly, despite playing well those two years, his other six years haven’t been very good so I would say it’s best to take a pass on Fleetwood this week.  Patrick Cantlay is another story at $11,200.  He is playing well and the course seems to suit him, I like him.  As for Brooks Koepka, sorry but $10,800 is too much to risk on a guy that is rehabbing.  Louis Oosthuizen at $10,300 is worth it, he finished 4th last year and was 2nd last week so yes pick him.  Matthew Fitzpatrick at $10,100 is a good pick considering he was T-3rd the last time he played in 2018.  Defending champion Shane Lowry is worth the $9,800 cost but remembers he played last week in Hong Kong so he may have a bit of jetlag.  Bryson Dechambeau is at $9,400 and says he has practiced hard and is ready to go, so he may surprise many. I would say he is a great pick.  The same with Branden Grace at $9,600, he won last week and despite nothing spectacular at Abu Dhabi, he will be someone that you seriously consider.  We talked before about Viktor Hovland at $9,300, think it will be a good pick.  As for Thomas Pieters at $9,200, Robert Macintyre at $9,100 and Bernd Wiesberger at $9,000 your money would be better spent elsewhere.

Here are those players with costs between $7,500 and $9,200 that are worth the price:

Have to wonder if taking Sergio Garcia at $8,900 wouldn’t be a bold move.  Played well on this course when the tournament was first played, could he go low, maybe.  Danny Willett at $8,800 could also be a good pick.  His game has been getting better every event he plays in, I have a bit of a problem with the fact that Willett has played in this event nine-time with only one top-ten and that was his T-8th back in 2009.  Matt Wallace at $8,100 is a good choice, did finish T-16th last year, hasn’t played since mid-November so is he ready to play well is the big question.  Erik Van Rooyen at $8,000 is a very good choice especially at this price, he finished T-32nd last year.  Ian Poulter at $7,700 is a great choice considering he was T-6th last year in Abu Dhabi.  Also at $7,700 is Lee Westwood who is well versed on this course and does make a lot of birdies.  Pablo Larrazabal at $7,500 is also a great choice when you see how well he plays on this course

Who are the “Bargains” out there?

Lot’s of great bargains, the best is Richard Sterne at $7,300.  Remember he was 2nd last year and is 36 under on this course.  Also, like Ryan Fox at $7,200, he has been very consisted on this course and is 22 under in his last three starts.  One last person is Ross Fisher at $7,100, he is always solid and has always been a good pick at a cheap price.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Abu Dhabi G.C.:

The key stat for the winner:

In looking at the stats of the winners the last seven years, what sticks out as very important is hitting lots of greens.  Kaymer was T-1st in that stat in 2011, and every winner since 2009 except for Kaymer in 2010 and Pablo Larrazabal in 2015 finished in the top-12 in that category.  In 2016 Rickie Fowler was T-10th, while Tommy Fleetwood last won the last two years leading the category hitting 66 of 72 greens in 2017 and 63 of 72 in 2018.  Shane Lowry wasn’t that great last year finishing T-18th hitting 53 of 72 greens.

Also important to look for length, since this is a desert course and will play firm, players that hit it far will have an advantage along with guys that play well in the desert.

Here are some more key stats to look for this week:
  • Interesting to see how well all of the champions since 2009 has done on the par 3s.  2015 champion Pablo Larrazabal was 7 under on them, all of the winners since 2009 have played them under par.  In 2017 and 2018 Fleetwood won playing the par 3s in 4 under both years.  But the best was Shane Lowry last year he was 10 under the best of anyone playing in this event.
  • Length is always essential 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 finished  T5th in 2009, 3rd in 2010 and 2nd in 2011 and ’12.
  • In the 14 years, the tournament has been played only once has a 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 unique to think that in the 14-year history of this event Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood has won it twice and Martin Kaymer won it three times, horses for courses.  Both Fleetwood and Kaymer are playing this year.
  • Guess what the weather is going to be like?  Easy, it’s going to be perfect with temperatures in the mid to high 70s and no rain.  In the past wind has been a problem, not this week as Friday is the only windy day at 10 mph.
  • One last thing, it’s easy to say that Brooks Koepka could win, even coming back from injury.  His driver will give him a significant advantage as he can overpower the course.  But a case in point, yes Koepka has won four majors and it’s thanks to his driver.  I can see him playing well but not good enough to win.  But back to giving the trophy to Koepka guys like Gary Stal, Pablo Larrazabal, and Robert Rock were not consider “favorites” in the years they won, so the point is don’t be surprised if the winner isn’t a marquee name.  Maybe Patrick Cantlay will surprise a few folks.

Who to watch for at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Best Bets:

Patrick Cantlay

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Yes a rookie is going to win this, think the course is perfect for Cantlay.

Louis Oosthuizen

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
4 CUT 5 T2 T65

Played good last week and knows how to play this course.

Shane Lowry

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
Win CUT CUT CUT 4

Defending champion who should play well again, yes he may have some jet-lag due to playing in Hong Kong last week but think he will get over it.

Best of the rest:

Tommy Fleetwood

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T42 Win Win CUT CUT T19 CUT CUT

Yes he is good but you don’t know which direction he will take. He was playing well at the end of the season, we will see how hard he has worked on his game.

Bryson Dechambeau

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT T54

Says he is paying good, has put on some weight mostly in muscle we will see if that helps him.

Viktor Hovland

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Another rookie who could find the course perfect for his game.

Branden Grace

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T27 T15 T13 T5 T20 T52 5 CUT

Played great last week in South Africa, could do it again this week

Matthew Fitzpatrick

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T3 CUT T26 CUT

Another of those that could surprise us.

Solid contenders

Brooks Koepka

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T9 CUT

Can he win, yes. But I think this week is all about getting things back together and making sure the knee is ok.

Sergio Garcia

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T19 T12 T13 T8

First start as a 40-year-old, he could surprise a lot of us this week.

Danny Willett

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT T54 T57 T19 T23 CUT 69 CUT T8

I like him on desert courses, he would love to begin the decade with a victory.

Erik Van Rooyen

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T32

He could be the star player in 2020.

Ian Poulter

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T6 CUT T39 T14 CUT 2 T9

Has proven he can play well on this course, was T-6th last year.

Long shots that could come through:

Pablo Larrazabal

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T6 CUT T2 T26 CUT Win T39 CUT T11 T43 T42

Past winner that is looking to find his game.

Matt Wallace

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T16 T32

Finished T-16th last year, he could surprise us this week.

Richard Sterne

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
2 T19 T37

Was runner-up last year, 36 under on this course.

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