Abu Dhabi Championship

Yas Links provides the backdrop for the start of the 2023 DPWT campaign and after a hugely successful staging of last year's renewal the course should provide an equally enjoyable contest this week.

Plenty of wind blew last year to keep the players honest and Thomas Pieters managed an overdue victory at ten under par. Upon writing, the same wind doesn't look like materialising this year and I'd expect scores to be a fair bit better than 2022.

Links form often translates in this part of the world whilst a glance at previous form both here and in Dubai is always good advice. Last year Pieters topped the tee to green stats for the week but the two runners up Bello and Sharma ranked 26th and 45th in that category.

They made their scores primarily on the greens with Sharma ranking 1st in SG putting and Bello 3rd. With the wind that blew short game was predicted to be important that week and with the little forecast this week potentially the tee-to-green prowess of many of the bigger hitters will win out on this 7400+ yards par 72.

Seamus Power at 33/1 (Eight Places)

Seamus Power was defeated by Nicolai Hojgaard in Sundays Singles at Hero Cup but finished up those 18 holes in five under par. I'm surprised the Irishman has been chalked up at 33/1. Power has shown an abundance of ability in the past couple of years resulting in two PGA tour wins.

Those two wins at the Barbasol and Bermuda Championship certainly aren't the strongest, but subsequent 3rd and 5th placed finishes in the WWT in Mexico and RSM Classic this season are evidence that his most recent win was no flash in the pan.

His PGA tour career is now littered with top five and 10 finishes and this new level he has reached has seen him soar to inside the 30 in the world rankings. Speaking of those rankings, there was a lot of chatter when the RSM went up against the DP World Championship in November with the OWGR system rating the RSM as a more difficult tournament to win.

Power went off a 22/1 shot that week, and turns up here in a much weaker contest at 33/1. Indeed with his Bermuda win he received seven more points than what Fleetwood did for his Nedbank win.

His 3rd place in Mexico also got more pts than Fox's runner-up to Fleetwood in South Africa. There is little doubt Seamus Power is capable of producing efforts similar to the tournament favourites with regularity.

With little DPWT experience, there is a slight worry about his performance here but the outing last week at the Hero Cup should blow those Middle East cobwebs away and his effort on Sunday suggests he is ready for the challenge here at Yas Links. 

2pts each-way S.Power  33/1  (1/5 8)

Shane Lowry win at 15/1 Enhanced Win Only

It is no surprise the front of the market is dominated by those who figured in last week's Hero Cup. That somewhat competitive outing could prove fruitful for those guys and having shaken off any potential rust they must hold a huge chance of landing this prize. I am of the opinion this will go to a classy sort this week as it often does and it isn't easy to choose between the market leaders.

Hatton and Fleetwood both perform in these parts and had plenty of positives last week. One who didn't have any positives on paper last week was Shane Lowry who went 0-4 in the Hero Cup. Nevertheless, I think he is the player to beat this week and I'd argue he should be tournament favourite.

The Irishman was a 14/1 shot in late November when competing in the DP World Tour Championship, an event where McIlroy, Rahm, Fitzpatrick and Hovland all sat ahead of him in the market. Those four are absent this week and we see the same price. There wasn't much to shout about in Dubai finishing 23rd that week and a subsequent 18th in the Hero Challenge suggests there is reasoning behind why Lowry is priced at 14/1.

The counterargument is that this course really suits Lowry both with his precision irons and touch around the greens. Indeed he was lying in second spot here going into the final round last year only to shoot a five-over par round of 77 after a chaotic start on the 1st hole on Sunday which resulted in a triple bogey.

Pieters who sat alongside him going into the final round only needed a level par round to win the event. Considering Lowry has already won in Abu Dhabi his form here is eye-catching. Defeat to Molinari in the singles on Sunday in the Hero Cup must also be mentioned. He was two down with three holes to play having played the first 15 holes in four under par. He made a hash of the 16th to lose the match but on the whole played quite well on Sunday. 

3pts WIN S.Lowry 15/1 Enhanced Win Only

Alex Noren win at 21/1 Enhanced Win Only

Robert MacIntyre has the credentials to go well here and there was plenty to like about his performance last week. Hatton must hold every chance this week also and whilst I'm keen to add another one of the big players this week I'll opt instead for Alex Noren at close to double Hatton's price. Noren's last five trips to this tour have resulted in finishes of 27-12-15-2-2.

Most recently towards the end of 2022 he finished runner up in both the Dunhill Links and DP World Tour Championship. Both events have their correlation with Abu Dhabi and his subsequent effort in November finishing 4th in the Houston Open is all the evidence we need to know that Noren is in the best form he has been for quite some time.

All that is missing is a victory and it is coming on for close to five years since he last stood in that enclosure. Being a solid all rounder his game should lend itself to this layout and he looks a much better value bet than the tournament favourite.

2.5pts WIN A.Noren 21/1 Enhanced Win Only

Adri Arnaus at 80/1 (Eight Places)

Adri Arnaus realised some of his potential last year with an impressive victory in his home country in May. The rest of the year was somewhat inconsistent with his iron game tailing off in the Autumn. He struggled to compete at all during that period but displayed once again how good he is in this part of the world with a top ten at the Earth Course in November.

His record across Dubai and Abu Dhabi events in the past few years reads 3-MC-10-12-9-9-20-MC-9-9. That certainly raises his profile for this and should he manage to overcome the break with little consequence then his price of 80/1 could look very decent come Sunday morning. 

0.75pt each-way A.Arnaus 80/1 (1/5 8)

Thorbjorn Olesen at 100/1 (Eight Places)

From Autumn onwards in 2022 Goerge Coetzee produced a handful of efforts if which repeated would see him enter the conversation here. Preference at a slightly bigger price though is for Thorbjorn Olesen.

The Dane got back into the winners circle last year with a win at the British Masters after a rollercoaster couple of years. Plenty of decent efforts followed and then he tailed off towards the end of the year with a big downturn in fortunes with the putter, usually the best club in his bag.

He plays well in these parts with a runner up finish in this event back in 2013 as well as a handful of top three finishes in Qatar and Dubai. I do believe a good links game translates well here also and he has performed numerous times on links, most notably a win in Scotland back in 2015.

We know what he is capable of if his putter returns to some form and in a similar mould to Cabrera Bello who went well last year can give the principles a fright at triple figures.

0.75pt each-way T.Olesen 100/1 (1/5 8)