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BlogAbu Dhabi Preview and Picks

Abu Dhabi Golf Championship

January 21st – 24th, 2021

Abu Dhabi G.C.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,583

Purse: $8 million

with $1,333,280 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Lee Westwood

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

27 players in the field are in the top-100 of the Latest Official World Rankings.  The field includes 12 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with two top-10s in the field: #3 Justin Thomas and #9 Tyrrell Hatton.  The other top-50 in the field are , #17 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #19 Tommy Fleetwood, #34 Victor Perez, #35 Shane Lowry, #36 Christiaan Bezuidenhout, #37 Lee Westwood, #38 Justin Rose, #41 Bernd Wiesberger, #48 Ian Poulter and #50 Matt Wallace.

Last year 13 top-50 players were in the field

The field includes 18 of the Top-25 on the final Race to Dubai standings for 2020.  Those players are #1 Lee Westwood, #2 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #4 Tommy Fleetwood, #6 Victor Perez, #7 Christiaan Bezuidenhout, #8 Aaron Rai, #9 Tyrrell Hatton, #11 Sami Valimaki, #12 Andy Sullivan, #14 Lucas Herbert, #16 Rasmus Hojgaard, #18 Thomas Detry, #19 Laurie Canter, #20 Rory McIlroy, #21 Renato Paratore, #23 Robert Macintyre, #24 Martin Kaymer and #25 Adrian Otaegui.

The field includes seven of the eleven different past champions: Lee Westwood (2020), 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 Golf Championship

Player Sentry T of C. Mayakoba Golf Classic RSM Classic DP World, Dubai South African Open Golf in Dubai Alfred Dunhill Champ. Joburg Open Masters Houston Open
Justin Thomas
(156 pts)
3
(90)
T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(131.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(2.67)
DNP
Lee Westwood
(101.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T38
(8)
CUT
(-3.33)
Andy Sullivan
(90 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T10
(40)
T6
(20)
T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sami Valimaki
(79 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
T51
(0)
T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Laurie Canter
(78.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP DNP DNP
Antoine Rozner
(72.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(14)
T51
(0)
Win
(44)
T36
(4.67)
T20
(10)
DNP DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(70.67 pts)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T7
(18.33)
Wilco Nienaber
(65.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(27)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T24
(8.67)
2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(65 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP
Matt Wallace
(61.33 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
T29
(21)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP T46
(2.67)
DNP
Victor Perez
(57.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(2.67)
DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(57.33 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T36
(14)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP 58
(0)
DNP
Joachim B. Hansen
(52.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(7)
T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP
Brandon Stone
(50.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(27)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
George Coetzee
(49.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T29
(21)
T6
(20)
DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
(49 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(36)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T15
(11.67)
T38
(8)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(46.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP
Adrian Otaegui
(46 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(36)
DNP T37
(4.33)
T33
(5.67)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP
Pablo Larrazabal
(46 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T48
(2)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP
Marcus Armitage
(41 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
3
(30)
T45
(1.67)
T42
(2.67)
T30
(6.67)
DNP DNP
Martin Kaymer
(40.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(36)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Dean Burmester
(40 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(36)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP
Sean Crocker
(38.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(36)
CUT
(-3.33)
T22
(9.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Robert MacIntyre
(37.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Danny Willett
(36.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T32
(18)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
WD
(-1.67)
Mike Lorenzo-Vera
(33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adri Arnaus
(33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Thomas Detry
(32.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T29
(21)
T28
(7.33)
T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Shane Lowry
(30 pts)
DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
T11
(13)
Garrick Higgo
(29.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(36)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP
Masahiro Kawamura
(29.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(36)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Francesco Laporta
(26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T2
(33.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Zander Lombard
(26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T7
(18.33)
T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP
Ian Poulter
(24 pts)
DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
T43
(7)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
DNP
Kalle Samooja
(23.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tom Lewis
(23.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Renato Paratore
(22.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 60
(0)
DNP T13
(12.33)
T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Thomas Pieters
(22.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(14)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Grant Forrest
(20 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 64
(0)
DNP 6
(20)
T55
(0)
T56
(0)
DNP DNP
Robert Rock
(19.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(18)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ross Fisher
(18.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP 7
(18.33)
T69
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Marcus Kinhult
(18 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(18)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Callum Shinkwin
(17.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(14)
CUT
(-3.33)
T30
(6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Steven Brown
(16.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Sentry T of C. Mayakoba Golf Classic RSM Classic DP World, Dubai South African Open Golf in Dubai Alfred Dunhill Champ. Joburg Open Masters Houston Open
Graeme McDowell
(-13 pts)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T59
(0)
WD
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T44
(2)
Oliver Fisher
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Raphael Jacquelin
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Alexander Bjork
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Scott Hend
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Alexander Levy
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Fabrizio Zanotti
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
David Law
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Soren Kjeldsen
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Chris Wood
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz

A critical 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.  This year’s tour is different, first the South African swing happened in December, so there won’t be any events in January. On top of that, there are no events in Australia or Asia for the next six months, so instead of the ten to 12 events before the Masters, over the course of the 15 weeks to the Masters, there are only of them.  After the three desert swing events, the tour takes a month off and returns for Oman, Qatar Masters, and Kenya Open.  With this being a Ryder Cup year and the European Tour making lots of changes, the next three weeks will be important for marquee names who will be looking to make the European Tour’s requirements so they can play at Whistling Straits.

The landscape of these three events has changed over the years.  The Dubai Desert Classic use to be the main event, but Abu Dhabi has replaced Dubai in status.  They as also part of the Rolex Series, which will see a big 8 million dollar purse.  Now Dubai will have a good field, but the Saudi International has gained status and importance, with a good field.

Rory is back this week.

After not playing in the Desert Swing the last two years, McIlroy is back this week in Abu Dhabi.  Now for Rory, Abu Dhabi is full of frustration.  In ten starts, he has four runner-up finishes and three third-place finishes.  Besides missing the cut in 2013, he has been in the top-11 every year so have to think he will be everyone’s favorite.

Lee Westwood’s return

For Lee Westwood, 2020 was a return to a new level he had never seen before.  At age 47, Westwood won the Race to Dubai for the third time, and it all started with his win in Abu Dhabi a year ago.  Now it was a weird year when you consider he only had a win, a second at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, along with only one other top-ten.  But in his 15 European Tour starts, he only missed one cut but had nine top-25 finishes.  But while other players in their late 40s are thinking more of the senior tour, Westwood has found a way to contend on both the European and PGA Tours.  In a way, Westwood is a lot like Vijay Singh, he has a classic, simple swing in which he hit fairways and greens, and when he gets his putter rolling, he will contend.

Abu Dhabi a good place for Justin Thomas to regroup

Justin Thomas was rolling along in the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions.  Have to think he was looking forward to getting off to a great start with a win at Kapalua.  When he missed a five-footer for par on the fourth hole in the third round, Thomas muttered a homophobic slur, which despite being early in his round with no people around, became a big deal when Golf Channel mics picked it up.  It became a big deal, and even with Thomas taking full responsibility after the round, the slur made it through social media circles, and Thomas became public enemy #1.  This was an inexcusable moment, and it bothered Thomas, he shot 66 in the final round and finished T-2nd, but Thomas’s mind was elsewhere.  Thomas left Kapalua and was supposedly on vacation in the Maldives, but he lost his Ralph Lauren sponsorship.  In a way, it was a bitter pill for the 24-year-old, but with the example, I don’t think we will ever hear this again, thanks to Ralph Lauren making an example of Thomas.  It will be interesting to see what happens to Thomas this week, the media will be small, and he should have enough time to put this in his rear-view mirror.

A couple of players you have not heard much of that could win this week in Abi Dhabi.

Looking for those off the wall picks for this week.  Here are a couple of players that ended the 2020 season strongly.  After finishing T-38th at the Masters, Christiaan Bezuidenhout went on a mini tear with a T-15th at the Joburg Open, then won the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the BMW South African Open before finishing T-14th at the DP World Championship, Dubai.  With the great month, it helped Bezuidenhout to finish 7th, but more importantly, he went from 60th in the World Rankings to 35th, ending the year, and will get to play in not only all four major championships but the first two World Golf Championships in March.

South African Wilco Nienaber played his first year on the European Tour finishing 46th in the Race to Dubai and finished the year with a 2nd at Joburg, 12th at Alfred Dunhill Championship, T-11th at the South African Open, and T-23rd at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.  He will be playing for the first time in Abu Dhabi but should be a guy to consider.

We know how good Matthew Fitzpatrick is, but he showed with his win at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, that he may be a present in 2021.  He played in 23 events on both the European and PGA Tours and, along with his Dubai finish, was runner-up last year in Abu Dhabi. He had seven top-ten finishes, and we can see he will be a person to consider in Abu Dhabi.

One last player is Andy Sullivan, who won the English Championship in August.  He ended pretty well, despite missing the cut at the RSM Open, he was T-10th at the DP World Championship, Dubai, 2nd at the Golf in Dubai Championship, and T-3rd at the BMW PGA Championship.  In Abu Dhabi was T-21st last year, and in eight starts, has made the cut all 8 times.

Course Information – Abu Dhabi Golf Club

Part of a 27-hole club that was built and opened in 1998.  Peter Harradine designed the course. The course was carved straight out of the desert and required about 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.

In 2019, 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 few changes to the course.

DraftKings Tips

Looking for some good picks at Abu Dhabi

*Of the 132 in the field, 111 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 2015:

  • Martin Kaymer is 70 under in 24 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Bernd Wiesberger is 65 under in 24 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Thomas Pieters is 65 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Ross Fisher is 63 under in 24 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Tommy Fleetwood is 62 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello is 45 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Henrik Stenson is 44 under in 16 rounds playing 5 years.
  • Joost Luiten is 43 under in 20 rounds playing 5 years.
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick is 42 under in 16 rounds playing 5 years.
  • Tyrrell Hatton is 42 under in 18 rounds playing 5 years.
  • Scott Hend is 37 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Richard Sterne is 36 under in 14 rounds playing 4 years.
  • Thomas Bjorn is 34 under in 20 rounds playing 5 years.
  • Maximilian Kieffer is 32 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Lee Westwood is 30 under in 16 rounds playing 5 years.
  • Pablo Larrazabal is 30 under in 18 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Jorge Campillo is 29 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Scott Jamieson is 29 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Andy Sullivan is 28 under in 24 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Oliver Fisher is 27 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Kiradech Aphibarnrat is 26 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Nicolas Colsaerts is 26 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Alexander Levy is 25 under in 18 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Ian Poulter is 23 under in 16 rounds playing 5 years.
  • David Lipsky is 23 under in 18 rounds playing 6 years.
  • Justin Rose is 22 under in 8 rounds playing 2 years.
  • Dean Burmester is 22 under in 14 rounds playing 4 years.
  • Paul Waring is 22 under in 14 rounds playing 5 years.
*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)
  • Martin Kaymer is 70 under playing 6 years (-11.7)
  • Justin Rose is 22 under playing 2 years (-11.0)
  • Bernd Wiesberger is 65 under playing 6 years (-10.8)
  • Thomas Pieters is 65 under playing 6 years (-10.8)
  • Ross Fisher is 63 under playing 6 years (-10.5)
  • Tommy Fleetwood is 62 under playing 6 years (-10.3)
  • Victor Perez is 20 under playing 2 years (-10.0)
  • Richard Sterne is 36 under playing 4 years (-9.0)
  • Shane Lowry is 18 under playing 2 years (-9.0)
  • Henrik Stenson is 44 under playing 5 years (-8.8)
  • Joost Luiten is 43 under playing 5 years (-8.6)
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick is 42 under playing 5 years (-8.4)
  • Tyrrell Hatton is 42 under playing 5 years (-8.4)
  • Gavin Green is 16 under playing 2 years (-8.0)
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello is 45 under playing 6 years (-7.5)
  • Matthias Schwab is 14 under playing 2 years (-7.0)
  • Mike Lorenzo-Vera is 14 under playing 2 years (-7.0)
  • Thomas Bjorn is 34 under playing 5 years (-6.8)
  • Adri Arnaus is 13 under playing 2 years (-6.5)
  • Thomas Detry is 19 under playing 3 years (-6.3)
  • Scott Hend is 37 under playing 6 years (-6.2)
  • Lee Westwood is 30 under playing 5 years (-6.0)
  • Matt Wallace is 18 under playing 3 years (-6.0)
  • Romain Langasque is 12 under playing 2 years (-6.0)

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 lots of points this week.

*Here are the guys that are very costly this week:
  • Rory McIlroy – $11,200
  • Justin Thomas – $11,000
  • Tyrrell Hatton – $10,300
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $10,100
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick – $9,900
  • Victor Perez – $9,800
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout – $9,600
  • Shane Lowry – $9,500
  • Lee Westwood – $9,400
  • Justin Rose – $9,300
  • Martin Kaymer – $9,200
  • Bernd Wiesberger – $9,100
  • Robert Macintyre – $9,000

So it’s a brand new year, and we will see if Rory McIlroy, who is $11,200, will regain his lost form.  This is a perfect spot for him since he has been runner-up four times and third, three times.  Look for him to play well and dominate this event.  Justin Thomas, at $11,000, is playing this event for the first time, he has been on vacation and is getting over his lost sponsorship with Ralph Lauren, yes he is a great player, but I feel he may not come through this week.  Tyrrell Hatton at $10,300 is worth the money, yes in six Abu Dhabi starts, his best was T-6th in 2015, still think after his great 2020, he will be good this week.  Yes, Tommy Fleetwood is expensive at $10,100, but he has won here twice and was runner-up last year.  Still, I am lukewarm on him right now, be careful. Matthew Fitzpatrick at $9,900 is a good price for a guy that finished T-3rd in this event in 2018 and runner-up last year.  At $9,800, Victor Perez also finished runner-up last year, and you have to consider him.  Christiaan Bezuidenhout at $9,600 is very high, yes I talked about how great he finished 2020, but the cost is too high for him.  Shane Lowry at $9,500 is questionable, yes he won in 2019 but missed the cut last year, I am taking a pass on him.  Lee Westwood at $9,400 is high, yes he is the defending champion but he also is 47 years old, best to pass on him.  Justin Rose at $9,300 is very high for a person that had the type of year he had, he has a lot to prove.  Martin Kaymer at $9,200 is too high, yes has a great record in this event and was T-8th last year, but his best days are behind him.  I like Bernd Wiesberger, but at $9,100, he is way too much.  The same with Robert Macintyre at $9,000, he is just too much money.

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

You have a big decision with Andy Sullivan at $8,800, he is good, but his price is still too high.  But he could be a good choice if you are looking for solid players in that price range.  Thomas Pieters at $8,700 is another interesting person, he struggled last year, but I think he can regain his form and start doing it this week.  Mike Lorenzo-Vera, at $8,300, is versatile as he always seems to make cuts.  Ross Fisher at $7,900 is another of those good players that make cuts and every now and then can finish in the top-ten.  I like him on this course.  Another good buy is Joost Luiten at $7,800.  He is nine for nine is making cuts and was T-42nd last year and 3rd in 2019.  He should be one of your automatic picks.  Also, consider Jordan Smith at $7,700 again makes cuts and puts points on the board.

Who are the “Bargains” out there?

Off the bat. I like Rafael Cabrera-Bello at $7,400.  He has only missed one cut in 12 starts, and you like that he has two top-ten finishes, and last year was T-12th and was T-11th in 2019.  Also, like Scott Jamieson at $7,000, he was T-8th last year and T-11th in 2019.  His 2020 was very consistent, and he is a good low price player. He is a great pick. Jason Scrivener at $6,800 is another good pick, makes cuts, and gets points on the board.  Scott Head is just $6,300, and he always makes cuts and finishes in the top-30.  Have to say you can’t get a better bargain than Thomas Bjorn at $6,100.  He has played at Abu Dhabi 4 times and made the cut 12 of them and has made his last eight times.  He isn’t going to give you a top-ten, but you can make some points with him.

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 winners’ stats for the last eight 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 in 2019, finishing T-18th hitting 53 of 72 greens, but Lee Westwood, who led the field in driving accuracy, was 8th in greens hit.
  • It is 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 who 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, in 2019 he was 10 under the best of anyone playing in this event.  Last year Lee Westwood was -3 on the par 3s.
  • 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.  Last year Lee Westwood showed that you didn’t have to hit it long to win, he ranked 44th in driving distance.
  • In the 15 years, the tournament has been played only once has a champion shot over par.  Martin Kaymer was 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 15-year history of this event, Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood have 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, the wind has been a problem, it will present a problem for players as each day it will blow between 15 and 25 mph.
  • One last thing, it’s easy to say that a Rory McIlroy or a Justin Thomas could win.  Both players are great drivers and will give them a significant advantage as both can overpower the course.  But a case in point, yes McIlroy and Thomas are the stars of the game as both won five majors, but you never know from week to week who came to be on top.
  • But when you think about how easy it will be for McIlroy or Thomas to win, remember that guys like Lee Westwood, Gary Stal, Pablo Larrazabal, and Robert Rock were not considered “favorites” in the years they won, so the point is don’t be surprised if the winner isn’t a marquee name.  Maybe a Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, or even a Christiaan Bezuidenhout will surprise a few folks.

 

Who to watch for at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T3 T3 2 T2 CUT 2 2 3 T5

Terrific record in this event, he just needs that one win which he can get this week.

Tyrrell Hatton

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T15 T13 T46 T6 T10

Has really improved into that first-class player, loves to win top events like this.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T2 T3 CUT T26 CUT

Been knocking on a lot of doors, played great in this event in his last two starts.

Best of the rest:

Justin Thomas

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Will contend, but just don’t think the course suits his game.

Tommy Fleetwood

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T2 T42 Win Win CUT CUT T19 CUT CUT

You never know with this guy, since it’s a new year I say he has been practicing hard and is ready to go.

Victor Perez

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T2 T54

He is a perfect guy to shoop in and walk away with this event, almost did it last year.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T59 CUT

Time for him to step up another notch with a win in this event.

Scott Jamieson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T8 T11 CUT T36 T46 CUT CUT CUT

Was T-8th last year and T-11th in 2019

Solid contenders

Lee Westwood

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
Win T16 CUT T8 CUT T17 T64 CUT

Defending champion just coming off his greatest year in a decade, would love to show everyone he can do it again.

Pablo Larrazabal

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T6 CUT T2 T26 CUT Win T39 CUT T11 T43 T42

The guy has the game and has played well on this course, but you just don’t know who will show up.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T12 T11 T40 T19 T14 CUT T4 T23 T48 7 T43 T15

Has a great record on this course and he can do well this week.

Andy Sullivan

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T21 T32 T53 73 T22 T57 T19 68

Makes cuts but can he overcome that with a really great week of golf.

Ross Fisher

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T6 T54 2 T19 T35 T9 CUT T42 T31 T37

One of those wild-card picks, always consistent and every now and then finds himself in contention.

Long shots that could come through:

Thomas Pieters

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T30 T16 T5 CUT 2 T4 CUT

After a off-year looking to bounce back this week.

Scott Hend

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T17 T27 T22 CUT T54 T31

Has a good record in this event.

Wilco Nienaber

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Playing in this event for the first time ended his 2020 season strongly.

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