The first of the European Tour’s premier events gets underway on Wednesday as the 2019 Abu Dhabi Golf Championship tees off from the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates.
Established in 2006, this year’s edition of the tournament holds particular prestige now falling under the Rolex Series, which has increased the prize-money from $3 million to $7 million for the overall winner.
Set to contest this year’s tournament are two former US Open winners – Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka – while back-to-back chapion Tommy Fleetwood looks to earn his third consecutive trophy.
Golf season is full swing, so you know what to do – check out our complete 2019 Abu Dhabi Golf Championship Preview below.
Best Bet: Thomas Pieters @ $21.00
There’s two things you need to know when it comes to betting on the Abu Dhabi Championship: 11 of the last 13 winners have been European, and familiarity with the course is worth its weight in gold.
That all speaks to Tommy Fleetwood, but if we’ve learned anything from his success, it’s that turning up to the tournament year after year normally puts you in a good place to eventually break through and win. Thomas Pieters knows a thing or two about turning up to work – he finished fifth behind Fleetwood last year, and better yet, runner-up in 2016.
This Par 72 course is no doubt one of the most challenging in the world, but it favours players who can temper their power and focus on accuracy.
Pieters hit close to 66% of greens on the European Tour in 2017, the same year he failed to make the cut. Since then the big swinger has improved tremendously with both the woods and irons, the only hindrance to his game being his attitude. The 26-year-old likes to take his frustrations out on the clubs, but after showing so much promise winning twice on Tour in 2015 and once the next year, this could be a prime opportunity for Pieters to mature with a big win to start 2019.
Best Value: Top 20 Finish – Martin Kaymer @ $3.00
When it doubt, back somebody that’s done it all before, right?
Martin Kaymer has already accomplished what Tommy Fleetwood sets out to do this week – become a three-time Abu Dhabi Championship winner. The German won in 2008, 2010, and 2011, and since he knows the ins and outs of this course, the 34-year-old should figure somewhere close to the finish.
While it’s enticing to take an outright peak at Kaymer and the 50/1 odds on offer, it’s worth remembering that he’s nowhere close to what he used to be. In his 20’s, Kaymer was a force to be reckoned with, but the twilight stages of his career have mostly been unkind. After finishing runner-up at the BMW Invitational Open last year, Kaymer failed to make the cut in his next two tournaments, much to the chagrin of his European fans.
Still, there has been consistent improvement with the woods, as we saw when Kaymer finished fifth in Turkey towards the end of last year. Now it’s just about bringing the putting and short game together in unison.
Best Roughie: Kiradech Aphibarnrat @ $41.00
Don’t be deterred by the long odds on offer for the 29-year-old Thai sensation – Kiradech Aphibarnrat is every chance at winning this. He finished fourth in the Abu Dhabi Championship in 2017, and also managed a Top 10 finish in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last year.
If you’ve been paying attention to Australian events, you might also remember Aphibarnrat from last year’s ISPS World Super 6 in Perth, a tournament Aphibarnrat won by shooting a brilliant first round 67 followed by back-to-back rounds of 72 to finish -5 under par.