Four of the world’s top ten head to the desert for this week’s European Tour event
Some of the biggest names in golf return to action this week after a well-earned winter break. World number one Rory McIlroy heads to the desert for his first appearance of 2015 and the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi often attracts one of the strongest fields of the year.
McIlroy is three times a runner-up at this event which was won last year by the Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal. Keep reading for our preview of this week’s 2015 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Big names often come unstuck in the desert
It’s the 10th anniversary of this event this year and the tournament has attracted a strong field including four of the world’s top ten players. Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, ranked world numbers one and two respectively, will head the 126 man draw with Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler also in the field.
The world’s best will be faced with the most challenging test yet posed by Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s National Course. The fairways have been tightened over previous years and following the additional of several bunkers the course now includes water hazards for the first time.
The favourites in the betting
The world number one returns to action this week and is hoping to go one better than last year. Rory McIlroy has finished in second place three times in Abu Dhabi – including last year – and is 4/1 to capture his first title of 2015.
Having trained for several days in Dubai, McIlroy said:
“I know they have made a few changes, but it’s a golf course I’ve always felt comfortable on, one that has suited me, and I’ve played well here in the past.
I think this is my eighth year in a row starting the season off here, so I’m pretty familiar with the place and looking forward to another strong start to the season.”
In recent years there is no one with a better record in Abu Dhabi than Ryder Cup star Martin Kaymer. The current US Open Champion has won this event three times from 2008 to 2011, during which he was a remarkable 81 under par.
In the year he didn’t win he finished second and so it is a course on which the German has enjoyed plenty of success.
Kaymer looks good value at 14/1.
Since the US Open, Rickie Fowler has finished in the top ten of every event he has entered with the exception of the Deutsche Bank Championships. The 26 year old ended 2014 in tremendous form although it’s worth remembering that the Californian hasn’t won an event since 2012.
Fowler is available at 13/1.
Some outsiders to consider for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
After a quiet few years there was a stunning return to form at the end of 2014 for the former Ryder Cup player Robert Karlsson. The Swede finished T6 at the DP World Tour Championships and he has an excellent record at this event.
He has never failed to make the cut in six visits to Abu Dhabi and has finished in the top 30 on five occasions. He hasn’t won on the European Tour in five years but could offer superb each-way value at 49/1.
It wasn’t the best start to the year for George Coetzee, failing to make the cut at the South African Open last week. However, Coetzee had a career best year on the European Tour in 2014 and has an excellent record in Abu Dhabi.
The 28 year old has never finished over par in 12 rounds at the National Course and in his three visits to this tournament he has finished sixth, ninth and fourth. He looks terrific value at 49/1.
We expect big things from English youngster Eddie Pepperell in 2015 after a superb last four months of 2014. The 23 year old finished T45 on his debut in this event in 2014 and we think he’ll reward an each-way investment before long. The 99/1 looks tempting.
The 2015 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship tees off in the early hours of Thursday morning, 15th January at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s National Course.
As ever, you can view all of our pre-tournament odds over at our main site at https://www.betbright.com/golf/outrights/men/abu-dhabi-cs-2015-winner