A quick look through the top contenders for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship stirs memories of last September and Gleneagles. World number one Rory McIlroy, the dream-team of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, wonder-chipper Martin Kaymer and the man who sealed the win, Jamie Donaldson, are all within the top 10 players likely to win according to the bookies. It’s also good to see Rickie Fowler making the trip to Abu Dhabi to hopefully renew his rivalry with McIlroy.
This is the 10th staging of the HSBC Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and as is traditional, this year’s event is the first time that many of the biggest names on the European Tour get their season going. Unsurprisingly Rory heads the field, with the best price available 9/2 at Betfred. He has never won this event and has not played competitive golf for a month but it is almost impossible not to consider him. In three of the last four years the Northern Irishman finished second and last year he was only one shot away from winner Pablo Larrazabal and quite frankly he has the game to win anywhere. It seems a shoe-in that he will be there or thereabouts this year.
Another player that you ignore at your peril is Kaymer. The German has won this event a staggering three times and although his last win came in 2011 he has put serious work into his swing over the past three years which started to bear fruit last season. At times last year he was imperious. No less so than when winning the U.S. Open by eight shots. Sky Bet are offering 14/1 for Kaymer to make it four wins, an alternative is the 9/1 that BetVictor have priced him up at in the Winner Without McIlroy market.
For those who are looking for a larger price to get involved in, Tyrrell Hatton may offer some interest. Hatton finished the last season strongly, finishing tied sixth at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai showing he is capable of competing with the best in the desert. The Buckinghamshire-born golfer is only 23 and if he can continue improving at the rate he did last year he is sure to pick up more top 10s this year on the main European Tour. Despite the inclusion of some of the world’s best players he is not the sort to become overly flustered and is a good value each-way shot at 80/1 generally.
Winter sun, Rory smashing it miles and some of the most popular golfers in the world, it is clear to see why this tournament retains its popularity among players and fans alike. This is just the start to the Race to Dubai and what a year we have in store, with Rory set to further cement his place at the top of the world game, starting with a win here.