Abu Dhabi - Winner

Yas Links provides the new backdrop for the Abu Dhabi HSBC and should provide a much more challenging week for the players compared to the previous venue. A links feel to this coastal track provides a challenge in itself, but with the introduction of wind forecast during the event, especially on Friday, then we could have a very interesting affair. Links form will play its part in my preparation for attempting to find a winner, as well as a tidy short game with plenty of greens being missed due to the weather. At first glance I loved the look of McIlroy at 13/2 then remembered the course had changed. That price around the track where he has gone close on numerous occasions would have been something to get involved with. Morikawa can win anywhere of course also but it must be said his Open win came in superb conditions and we've yet to see how he fares on a proper windy week.

It is no surprise since the winners share of this event has exceeded 500k we have seen winners like Hatton, Westwood, Lowry and Fleetwood. When the money talks, and it talks even more so this year on the DP World Tour then we usually see a classy winner. All four of those mentioned above have pedigree on links tracks also and although a different course presents itself we could see someone with a similar profile taking home the spoils. I'll be looking to have a few classy types in my arsenal this week with one eye to those who are dropping a little in grade. This field is pretty strong, but mostly towards the top of the market, and we see a handful further down who are used to competing in even stronger events than this and performing well. 

Tommy Fleetwood at 28/1 (Eight Places)

Tommy Fleetwood didn't break any records towards the end of 2021 but was in solid enough form and is used to kicking off his season in fine style. Abu Dhabi always is his starting point and the last five years he has posted finishes of 7-2-42-1-1. We now move to Yas Links but his capability of getting off to a fast start will be a huge advantage here. McIlroy often gets off to a hot start also but you'd be a brave man to take him on with some of the wind forecast at his available price. Instead opt for Fleetwood who has proven many times he can cope with the wind. Runner up at Portrush and a couple of runner ups at the Dunhill Links backs up the credentials we know he has for a linksy course. Add in his playoff defeat to Aaron Rai in Scotland where the wind blew everyone off their feet that week and he fits the bill more than anyone towards the top of the market. He certainly wasn't at his best in 2021 but he does excel in these parts and under these conditions so takes the bill as my top selection.

2pts each-way T. Fleetwood 28/1 (1/5 8)

Tommy Fleetwood - 2pts e/w @ 28/1

Erik Van Rooyen at 45/1 (Eight Places)

I am slightly worried about Erik Van Rooyen's touch around the greens lately but having performed so well from tee to green lately on the pgatour I find it difficult not to include him. A win last year at the Barracuda propelled him into the playoffs where he performed extremely well going all the way to East Lake having posted two top 7s in the BMW and Northern Trust. He has shaken off enough rust in the past few weeks compared to the majority of this field with a respectable effort of 25th at the Sentry then a much improved four days at Waialae finishing 20th. The South African took a fair lead into the final day at Ballyliffin in the Irish Open back in 2018 only to shoot a final round 74 and finish fourth. Sixth during that monstrous Scottish Open in 2020 was another sign of how well Van Rooyen can play in these conditions. More or less the same price as last week despite a weaker field and a ton more players with rust to shake off, especially towards the top of the market make Van Rooyen a likely contender.

1.5pts each-way E. Van Rooyen 45/1 (1/5 8)

Erik Van Rooyen - 1.5pts e/w @ 45/1

Ian Poulter at 55/1 (Eight Places)

There aren't many in this field better on or around the greens than Ian Poulter and I'm more than happy to get involved at 45/1. The Englishman was last seen finishing 6th in the DP World Tour Championship which was a welcome return to form following missed cuts in Mexico and Houston. Two of his last three jaunts to the European Tour have resulted in top six finishes so he can be comfortable in these settings. He had a poor Ryder Cup but he deserved to be there and to be regarded as one of the top 12 in Europe over the previous two years show us he is far from cooked yet. An opportunity like this could just re-ignite Poulter after that Ryder disappointment. He is happy playing on links and should relish the conditions. If the wind results in plenty of missed greens for the field, Poulter could step up to be one of the main men.

1.5pts each-way I. Poulter 55/1 (1/5 8)

Ian Poulter - 1.5pts e/w @ 55/1

Matthias Schwab at 66/1 (Eight Places)

Another making the trip to Abu Dhabi having had some quite decent results late last year on the pgatour is Matthias Schwab. The Austrian made his last three cuts in the States finishing 51st in Bermuda, 35th in Houston and 22nd in RSM having earned his pgatour card courtesy of a couple of top tens in the Korn Ferry towards the end of the year. 12th at Wentworth and 15th at Valderrama were evidence in Europe that he was playing well before heading into that stretch. He is yet to get off the mark but has come close on numerous occasions and surely a win isn't too far away. He has gained a wealth of experience over the past few months and could hit the ground running in Abu Dhabi. Has a nice touch around the greens also to cope with the forecasted conditions. 

1pt each-way M.Schwab 66/1 (1/5 8)

Matthias Schwab - 1pt e/w @ 66/1

Wade Ormsby at 200/1 (Eight Places)

With an emphasis on short game this week I'm prepared to give Wade Ormsby a go having shaken off some rust last week in Singapore finishing 8th. The Australian may have given himself a head start on the rest by getting some competitive golf under his belt this year and with his fine touch around the greens I'm hoping he can go well. It's a big ask to win a tournament of this stature but he is a two-time winner on the European Tour and with plenty coming in cold he may have just given himself a better chance than he normally would have. Thomas Detry is another player high up my list this week given his talent. He has played well on links before and two top 25s in his last two starts on the pgatour was a fair effort. Fox, Olesen and Aphibarnrat have all shown a likeness for links golf before and could figure at big prices but my preference this week was for higher profile sorts with the prize on offer.

0.75pt each-way W. Ormsby 200/1 (1/5 8)

Wade Ormsby - 0.75pts e/w @ 200/1