Winner’s Share – €379, 798
Course – Abu Dhabi Golf Course (7,600 yards par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Martin Kaymer (31st), Branden Grace (52nd), Paul Casey (65th), Peter Uihlein (MC)
After a much needed Winter break away from previewing, we’re back with more puns about Colin Montgomerie than ever before.
Abu Dhabi, although on paper isn’t the start of the European Tour season, feels like it’s exactly that with the field and prize fund on offer. McIlroy, Rose, Stenson and even Rickie Fowler have made the trip over. It also means there is a bit of early-season value to be had with the likes of Dubuisson and Schwartzel being pushed down to the 40/1 mark as a result.
With it being so early in the season and players still running off the Christmas turkey, we wouldn’t advise putting your mortgage on anyone that is for sure. People do tend to come from nowhere and the next few weeks will be all about gauging who’s had the best pre-season.
But what do we know? Well the course is one where a previous top 10 does tend to lead into many more. McIlroy has finished in the top 5 on 5 of the last 6 times he has teed it up here (another reason not to be putting your mortgage on anyone). Kaymer went 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st from 2009 while Coetzee, Bello, Olesen, Jimenez and A.Hansen have all finished in the top 10 on more than 1 occasion. Instantly, given their 2014 campaigns, we know Kaymer, McIlroy and probably even Rose given his 2nd in 2013 will be sniffing around the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.
At 7,600 yards the Abu Dhabi Golf Course is a long one but as long as you drive the ball over 290 on average, it won’t be as daunting as the length suggests. You can see from the previous winners, Donaldson, Kaymer, Casey and even Larrazabal on his day, you need to be a solid driver of the ball but possess an array of shots from the fairway when needed too.
Key points will be to have a solid week on the firm greens, above average distance off the tee, avoiding the various water hazards and a very healthy GIR%.
Don’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Pablo Larrazabal (80/1 Various)
Our regular followers will not be surprised by this, our first pick of 2015. Although he is one of our favourite golfers, we haven’t got our blinkers on with this one. For starters, he’s the defending champ here and won’t be giving up that trophy without a fight. Having Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy finish runner-up to you will give anyone confidence. And it’s confidence that the Spaniard thrives on – last year’s win, his 3rd of his career, looked like it could kick-start a big 2014 but things never really reached the same heights again.
Pablo’s passion and ability is right up there with the best of them and his biggest flaw would arguably be his consistency. But this course has proven that success breeds more success and even if one of the favourites do eventually win this, Pablo is sure to put up one hell of fight. He finished off 2014 with 4 top 20’s in 6 starts including 16th at the season-ending Tour Championship so no negatives can be said about his form. But as we say, the lottery of early season events is there for all to see. He has the game and confidence for this course and at 80/1 we’ll jump all over that.
Thomas Aiken (100/1 Bet Victor)
Fellow South African Branden Grace was someone who featured prominently in our research but at 40/1 with guys below him in the market was enough for us to turn our backs on him. So, we turn to fellow countryman Thomas Aiken at over double the price. There has been the slightest of trends recently here with people coming over from South Africa having posting a couple of tasty rounds. Jamie Donaldson and Robert Rock would be two of those. So it’s only fair we have a punt on Aiken who not only fits our profile but comes in with a nice bit of form after a 5th place last week.
It was around this time last year he built up a head of steam which culminated in a win at the Africa Open and it proved how he is someone who plays well in streaks. And despite the Winter break, his 5th last week followed on from a 16th and 4th that ended his 2014. So the form is there and judging by his stats last week – 6th GIR, 302 yards driving distance and 2nd driving accuracy, his game is too. As we always say, the putter will need to improve but that will come with the confidence of last week’s finish.
Tyrrell Hatton (80/1 Paddy Power)
The Winter break brings with it uncertainty as we have said. But one guarantee that does give us is that people at high prices will do well. It’s proven. So next up, Englishman Hatton. Apart from his name, he has all the tools to make a nice career for himself on the European Tour. He came from almost nowhere last year and eventually finished 36th in the Race to Dubai, not bad for a rookie.
What surprised us the most was the quick start he made last year. He was T10 here, T22 Qatar and then 2nd over in South Africa. A man with confidence it’s safe to say. His putting was standout on this track last year but over the past 12 months his game has come on in all areas. A 10th last year in his 3rd event as a European Tour regular – what can he produce now?
Nicolas Colsaerts (70/1 Stan James)
Rounding off our first week of European Tour picks is the Belgian bomber. 2014 was a year he probably won’t look back on with the grandchildren but his end to the season with his 2nd in Portugal in particular shows the character and resilience this man has. When all facets of his game are working, Abu Dhabi Golf Course will be right up his street.
2015 is a year where Colsaerts puts himself back on the radar, he believes that and so do we. He comes to Abu Dhabi after a 2 year break from the event which again sends out a signal of intent from the off. This is perhaps more of a hunch than our other 3 but golf is a funny game, sometimes the storylines just write themselves.
Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th
And here’s one our new exciting features for 2015. We will be running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so do keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
So, for this Abu Dhabi Championship our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
1.25 e/w on Pablo Larrazabal at 80/1
£0.75 e/w on Thomas Aiken at 100/1
£1 e/w on Tyrrell Hatton at 80/1
£1.50 e/w on Nicolas Colsaerts at 70/1
£1 win on Martin Kaymer at 15/1
Find the Golf Monthly Preview and their £10 picks here – Golf Monthly Betting Guide
Current Standings after 0 weeks
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