Rafa Cabrera Bello
The European tour moves from Africa to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the UAE for the HSBC Golf Championship. This is the first of two Peter Harradine designed courses hosting the European Tour, the other being the Doha Golf Club which hosts the Qatar Masters next week.
The course weaves through undulating terrain and features palms, ornamental trees, shrubs, seven saltwater lakes, strategically placed bunkers and generous greens. The course opened for play in October 2000, where its iconic clubhouse in the shape of a falcon with outstretched wings underwent a refurbishment for last year’s event.
The course also had a bit of a make-over for the 2011 tournament, with new tees on the 8th and 10th, the 6th and 14th were extended taking the total yardage to a testing 7,590 yds, which will test one of the best fields to be assembled for a golf tournament so far this year.
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My tips to win:
In its eleven year existence Martin Kaymer 33/1 with Coral has won this event three times, had a runners-up and three other Top 16s with two of those being Top 6s, so to say he loves the Abu Dhabi GC would be a slight understatement. It is strange to say that Martin hasnt won an event since his US Open demolition, but if he were going to change that stat this would be the tournament I think it will happen in.
Another player that enjoys teeing it up on the Abu Dhabi track is Rafa Cabrera Bello 33/1 with Bwin who has played in the event eight times and has finished inside the Top 25 five times with two Top 7 place finishes in that run. Rafa had a great year last year with six Top 10s on the European Tour two of those being runner-up finishes and two other Top 5s on the PGA Tour and a fifth place at the Olympic games. I also expect him to be in the thick of it come Sunday.
A player that came of age last year was Thomas Pieters 33/1 with Ladbrokes who has two Top 5 finishes in this event over the last two years and last year he had a third round 64 that see him taking the runners-up spot. Thomas was one of the European Ryder Cup players who stood tall against the Americans at Hazeltine and the way he made a statement of intent by winning the Made In Denmark tournament to make the team, marks him out as a player to watch this year.
My each-way tips:
Joost Luiten 35/1 with Bet365 started last season like a rocket, but then fell away, I really did think with his eight Top 15 finishes from his first nine starts with two runners-up and four other Top 10s that he would not only make the Ryder Cup team but go on and win more than one event. Joost did finally win but it wasnt until his home tournament in September. Luiten has had three Top 6s in his last three starts here and I expect him to be challenging again this week.
People take a lot of notice when you win in your first season as a Professional, but to follow that up with two wins in your second season with one of those being the World Tour Championship sets Matthew Fitzpatrick 35/1 with Bet365 slightly apart and I expect him to pick up where he left off last year and I think these are great odds for the Yorkshireman.
My outside tip
There are some great outside tips this week and my main one will be Thongchai Jaidee 90/1 with Bet365 who has had six Top 15 finishes from his ten starts here, with two Top 10s in that run. Thongchai is a regular winner on the European Tour winning once each year over the last three years and coming to a course he enjoys playing I think these are good odds. George Coetzee 125/1 with PaddyPower has three Top 10s from his five starts here and Alexjandro Canizares 125/1 with SportingBet seems to have grown into this event and has finished twelfth and fifth over the last two years and should come into this week in confident mood after several good finishes towards the end of last year.
As always good luck