Abu Dhabi Championship Tips & Betting Preview
A $41 winner in his last round of tips, Niall Lyons is back with five more for this one.
Tommy Fleetwood makes the trip to Abu Dhabi in search of a hat trick of wins. Winner in 2017 and 2018 here doesn't tell the whole story as four missed cuts from his previous five attempts show he hasn't had it all his own way. Nevertheless he is a different golfer now than what he was back then and there's no doubting his credentials here and he could well make it a trio of wins. Greens in regulation is a stat highly important here this week once again. Rory ranked 1st in that category upon finishing runner up in 2015, and 3rd when finishing 3rd in 2016. Tommy has topped that stat the last two years running. It is worth noting that Fleetwood has ranked 33rd and 68th in putting when winning these two renewals so the flat stick isn't something to be overly concerned with this week.
Dustin slots in around $6 and considering that was his price 18 months ago having obliterated the field in Hawaii you could be easily put off. He doesn't have Rose or McIlroy to worry about this week but nevertheless I don't think we'd make a lot of dough backing him at $6 here over a long period of time. Fleetwood at double the price is more enticing as if he hits the ground running here he could well be a super bet. He has shot 39 under here over the past two years and is arguably the man to beat. Upon writing this introduction I haven't decided whether I will back him or not yet.
LUCAS BJERREGAARD (best price $51) is always one I turn to when looking at tee to green tracks as his long game is one of the best out there. He started 2018 191st in the world rankings and finished it inside the top 50. It was a huge rise and very well deserved given how his game improved. He now has a win the last two years running and I'd expect that run to continue and we could be talking about him making the next Ryder Cup team. He far from disgraced himself after his win at the Dunhill Links with a 5th placed finish in Turkey and 11th in the tricky Nedbank. Just like Fleetwood he has uninspiring results here but turns up in 2019 a much improved sort. Probably the best bet of the week for me looking at the market.
It is hard to discount THOMAS PIETERS' (best price $23) chances here and even though I think he is a shade on the short side I find it very difficult to leave him off the staking plan. He has finished in the top 5 here in three of his last four outings and clearly loves the place. He finished off 2018 in fine fashion with top 20s in China, Turkey and Dubai before comfortably winning the World Cup of Golf alongside Thomas Detry. It's an obvious pick given his credentials but as was Kuchar last week. Kuchar's price rendered him a very decent bet but the same can't be said for Pieters. The market is lively to his chances and I would have preferred a bit bigger. However, I think Dustin's price of $6 makes a few backable and I think Pieters is worth siding with.
I can be rightly accused of following RAFA CABRERA-BELLO (best price $34) off a cliff as I've backed him too many times to remember. I've been right in backing him a few times, and wrong to include him some weeks in equal measure. I was impressed by the golf he was playing finishing off 2018 though and I shall once again throw some shillings on the Spaniard. 6th in Hong Kong was a shade disappointing as it's an event he really should have won by now. He has finished runner up there as well as Dubai and Qatar. He has managed a win in the Dubai Desert also so clearly travels well to these parts. He has made 9 from 10 cuts here with 4th and 7th being his best finishes. He is another who is unreliable with his putter but boasta a super long game. Bar Fleetwood I can see the others at the top of the market easily beat so I'm happy include a threesome between the $25-$50 mark to take on the big guns.
With only one missed cut in his last 11 events a welcome return to consistency has been achieved for former Ryder Cup member NICOLAS COLSAERTS (best price $126). The Belgian finished off 2018 in solid fashion with a 10th place at the Dunhill Links, 14th in Turkey and 14th in Hong Kong. Better is expected from this power hitter but 2018 showed there was life left in the old dog yet. The fact that the likes of Willett and Westwood got off the mark at the end of 2018 should breathe life into Colsaerts heading into this year. He has an unspectacular record here but finished 11th back in 2011. On a track that plays to his strengths (GIR) and doesn't require the best of putters he looks an interesting each way play to me.
It is no secret that I am a RYAN FOX (best price $101) fan and I still believe a win or two is on the horizon so he will always grab my attention when chalked up at three figure prices. 32nd and 19th on his only two starts here show us that the New Zealander can be expected to make enough birdies to secure a pay cheque. Again he isn't pulling up any trees but the Abu Dhabi GC suits the Kiwi given there's not many better than him from tee to green on the European Tour. His putter lets him down but if it heats up only slightly we will see him contend regularly. On a track where making a ton of putts isn't a prerequisite to winning he is worth playing.