With a ton of Desert golf down the years we have an awful lot to go in these events Far East events and a trip to Abu Dhabi is another welcome opportunity for bettors to take on the bookies. I definitely believe there are better weeks than others to go to war as you'll see me duck out of plenty of events due to lack of attractive bets. Last week looked good to the eye from the beginning and although The American Express is hard to judge, the HSBC here rates a much better prospect. Contenders are often Greens In Regulation machines and elite ball strikers. Previous good showings in Desert events is favorable also.
Tommy Fleetwood held all the aces here last year attempting a hat trick of wins here but he came undone once again and the lottery of this place is summed up by his two wins and four missed cuts. Previous poor course form here isn't of too much importance so we can't rule out an awful lot with that thought process. If Koepka was fit the price would be tremendous and part of me would back him blind regardless but the videos he posted to Twitter a few weeks ago certainly look as if the knee needed a lot of work and I wouldn't be surprised if we see him work at 50% of his full capabilities until he reaches the majors.
There is no doubting the best bet of the week for me in the shape of Sergio Garcia. We were on board at the back end of last year when he finished a credible 6th in Dubai. He also nabbed a win in the Dubai Desert a few years ago. Marry that with a win in Qatar and we have the perfect CV to go well on a track like this. This is his first trip to here in six years and there has been enough evidence in the previous few years that he can score well enough to contend here with three top 20s in his last 4 visits. The Spaniard ticks the box of being a super ball striker and Greens In Reg machine and I see no reason why he shouldn't hold as much of a chance as plenty above him in the market. It is worth noting that he has 14 worldwide wins in the last decade and will no doubt add to that list. This is one of better opportunities for him to do so.
1.75u - S.Garcia 35/1
1.75u - S.Garcia to Finish Top 10 @ +300
Another I can't ignore is Bernd Wiesberger. The Austrian bounced back to his best and more so upon winning 3 times in 2019. He was playing so well that I see no reason why that won't continue this year and bigger prizes may be on the horizon. His 2 latest wins in Italy and in Scotland were in very strong fields and a ranking of 23rd in the world now is no fluke and he looks to have the potential to climb even further. Winners here down the years have had a super links/wind pedigree and Wiesberger fits into that bracket. A win in Scotland last year can be backed up by two runner up finishes on Irish links, as well as top 5s in Qatar and here in Abu Dhabi. The 40/1 is slightly insulting and I'd argue again he'd have better chances than plenty above him in the market.
1.5u - B.Wiesberger @ 33/1
1.5u - B.Wiesberger to Finish Top 10 @ +350
Paul Waring was playing the golf of his life last year and if he continues in that manner could land his biggest win yet. He broke his tour duck in the Nordea a few years ago and has improved dramatically since now sitting at the highest world ranking in his career at 74th. 14th in Dubai last time out is certainly no negative. 8th in the WGC a few weeks previous was another sign of just how improved the Englishman is. Top 5 at the Dunhill Links is another box ticked as well as a top 5 in the Dubai Desert. Most of these impressive results have landed in the last 12 months and he sat 8th on tour in 2019 in Greens In Reg. Suitably priced by the bookmakers this week at a top price of 80/1 but will be on my betting slip regardless.
1u - P.Waring @ 80/1
1u - P.Waring to Finish Top 10 @ +800
Victor Perez leapt up the world rankings last year and now sits 45th. A remarkable achievement for the Frenchman and I doubt he will sit comfortably from here. Performances after his impressive Dunhill Links win included a top 5 in a WGC then a runner up spot beaten in a playoff in Turkey. He wasn't disgraced in Dubai either finishing a respectable 20th. This Frenchman could have a fair bit of improving in him and the fact his move to Dundee to live with his Scottish girlfriend resulted in him winning on links tracks at the Dunhill can be seen as a huge positive for this week. It would be another huge step to win this event but he retains the talent and looks a shade overpriced to me.
1u - V.Perez 66/1
1u - V.Perez to Finish Top 10 @ +650
Jeunghun Wang is an inconsistent sort but there a lot of positives to point towards a good showing. In 2017 and 2018 he finished 11th and 15th respectively for a combined total of 24 under par. At the grand old age of 24 he already has three European Tour wins to his name and although there has been the odd bout of inconsistency his results towards the end of 2019 are a big positive. 5th place at the Dunhill Links was backed up with top tens in Italy, Portugal and Indonesia. This is a very solid return of results from Wang and given he has won in Qatar also must be supported at 200/1.
0.75u - J.Wang 200/1
0.75u - J.Wang to Finish Top 10 @ 18/1
Ryan Fox is another at triple figures who must be punted. The New Zealander has suffered from poor periods in his career so far but the talent remains visible every time you watch him play. He is on a run of eight consecutive cuts made and that represents one of his most solid runs. He hasn't mixed it at the top of the leaderboard in any of those events but it remains decent form. Marry that with three cuts on the trot here at this venue and a few top 5 at Links courses and he's another lively outsider. There were plenty of others who I was close to backing most notably Pablo Larrazabal, Guido Migliozzi, Bejamin Hebert and Eddie Pepperell.
0.75u - R.Fox 125/1
0.75u - R.Fox to Finish Top 10 @ +1100
By Niall Lyons