Chris Paisley kicked off 2018 with a first win on the European Tour at the SA Open last week. Like many who competed at Glendower Golf Club, Paisley hopped straight on a plane bound for the Middle East to contend for the prestigious Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. They’ll be joined at Abu Dhabi Golf Club by many of the European players who defended the EurAsia Cup and some of the biggest names in golf including world number one, Dustin Johnson.
The three event Desert Swing is, for many, the real start of the European Tour season. That’s certainly true for Rory McIlroy, who is making his comeback after an extended break to sort out niggling injury problems. McIlroy has never won this tournament but he’s finished runner up four times which shows you his power game is well suited to the 7,583 yard, par 72 course.
That is not to say that accuracy is unimportant. The greenkeepers like to grow the rough up to catch errant drives while some nasty bunkers and water hazards will catch out their fair share. The flat course is also exposed to the wind which looks set to get up over the weekend, hopefully providing a dramatic finish to this well regarded tournament.
Globe Trotter Aphibarnrat Finally Rested and Ready to Fire
Professional golfers who have reached a certain standard have the luxury of being able to pick and choose their tournaments. Many of the world’s best only play in events with the most ranking points or prize money available but it’s a little different for Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The Thai star just loves playing golf and took only a handful of weeks off last year.
Aphibarnrat doesn’t exactly look like a highly tuned athlete and he enjoys the odd cigarette during his round but he has a remarkable ability to keep contending even when his body is surely tired. Having finally had a decent break over the Christmas period, Aphibarnrat is ready to prove his qualities one again at a tournament he very much enjoys.
Aphibarnrat drove the ball well and hit a large number of greens in regulation en route to a fourth place finish 12 months ago and has every chance of improving on that result this year. He has all the tools required to tackle Abu Dhabi Golf Cup, even when the desert winds whip up, and looks good value at 50/1 with Bet365.
Fisher to Stake His Claim for the Ryder Cup
Ross Fisher was one of the victorious European team in Malaysia last week. Having had another taste of team golf, he’ll be desperate to do enough this season to get his place in this summer’s Ryder Cup team and you’ve got to say he has every chance.
Fisher won his first European Tour event over 10 years ago and although he didn’t win last season, it still felt like a very important 12 months for the Englishman. He regularly competed against the very best in the world and is ready to claim a big win. Expect Fisher to utilise his desert golf experience and challenge for the title at 55/1 with Betfred.