Starts: 21st January 2021
Course: Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Par: 72 (36-36)
Length: 7,583 yards
Defending Champion: Lee Westwood
Overall Profit/Loss: -8.75pts
Pre-Event bets: -9pts
1pt EW Victor Perez (1/5 1-8) - 30/1 @ Betfair
1pt EW Andy Sullivan (1/5 1-7) - 40/1 @ Betfred
0.5pts EW Ross Fisher (1/5 1-6) - 90/1 @ Unibet
0.5pts EW Joachim Lagergren (1/5 1-7) - 150/1 @ Skybet
0.5pts EW Francesco Laporta (1/5 1-6) - 200/1 @ Unibet
0.5pts EW Tom Lewis FRL (1/5 1-6) - 70/1 @ Unibet
0.5pts EW Laurie Canter FRL (1/4 1-5) - 70/1 @ Bet365
In-Play bets: +0.25pts
22 January 2021
0.5ptsEW David Lipsky without Hatton and McIlroy (1/4 1-4) - 30/1 @ Betfair
0.5pts EW Mikko Korhonen without Hatton and McIlroy (1/4 1-4) - 36/1 @ Betfair
23 January 2021
2ptsWin Only Tommy Fleetwood - 9/2 @ Betfair
Fall Momentum - The top 3 all had a top 10 in their last two starts of 2020.
Hard work over winter - Notable that Scrivener, McIlroy and Langasque (who did well the first few days) all spoke of the effort they'd put in pre-tournament being more than usual and how sharp they felt.
Wind - Wind wasn't especially strong but several players spoke of blustery conditions at times, more so than normal.
Q. Your caddie was telling me he had never seen you work this hard; Christmas Day was the only day you had off and you've been working with Dave Alred. Tell us about that.
JASON SCRIVENER: Yeah, he's been a game changer for me. Really taught me -- we sat down probably two months before Christmas at the end of my season last year, and he's really helped me a lot and pushed me that bit extra to work harder.
RORY McILROY: It's so blustery and it's different type of golf than we're used to playing here in Abu Dhabi where there's usually not much wind. You feel like you have a chance on every hole. There's like a little more scrambling involved and longer putts. (3rd round)
TYRRELL HATTON: It was a difficult day. The conditions were really tough for the whole day. (3rd round)
Course Designer: Peter Harradine
Fairways: Narrow, Flat, Bunkers in key landing spots
Greens: Tifdwarf Bermuda. High quality, meaning putts are holeable
Water Hazards: Featured throughout
Par 5's: 2nd, 8th, 10th, 18th
Hosted Since: 2005
Premium on: Accuracy off the tee and strong iron play
Warm and sunny all four days with peaks of 25 degrees. Wind picks up significantly in the afternoon on Thursday which favours the morning starters.
Thurs: Sunny and strong breeze. Wind peaks at 18mph late afternoon.
Fri: Sunny and strong breeze. Wind peaks at 18mph early afternoon.
Sat: Sunny and gentle breeze. Wind peaks at 14mph late afternoon.
Sun: Sunny and moderate breeze. Wind peaks at 12mph early afternoon.
Significant Info To Be Aware Of
This is the first event of the 2021 European Tour season. You may see a lot of rust from players, Justin Thomas is the only play who has teed up in 2021 so far.
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
Since 2015, the winning score has ranged from -16 to -22. We expect a similar outcome this week with high winds on Thursday and Friday.
Price of Winner
Varied from 8/1 to 150/1 in last 10 years. 7 of the last 9 winners were 60/1 or bigger. Westwood went off at 90/1.
None, although previous recent winners here have all been strong links players, perhaps due to the afternoon winds that tend to arrive. Westwood, Lowry and Fleetwood all have decent records at wind exposed tracks.
Between 2012 and 2017, all six winners hadn't recorded a previous top 10 at the Abu Dhabi GC. Since then though, all three winners had a previous top 5, and Tommy Fleetwood retained his title in 2018. Desert form is also preferred.
The last 9 winners had a top 10 in their previous 4 starts. It is important to have some sort of momentum from the end of season events.
The winner has been from UK or Ireland 6 of the last 9 years.
Strokes Gained stats have only been available since 2019 on the European Tour. There doesn't appear to be one key stat needed to get the job done. Leaving Westwood aside last year, iron play looks key to success.
In 2020, three of the top four finished outside 50th for distance. Only Victor Perez finished 5th. You don't need to bomb it round here to contend.
SG: Off The Tee
In 2020, Westwood and Perez were in the top 10 for this category but Fleetwood and Fitzpatrick were ranked 23rd and 31st. Winner in 2019 Lowry ranked 98th that
year. Nonetheless, we generally want a strong driver around here.
In 2020, winner Westwood only ranked 41st. Fitzpatrick and Fleetwood were both top 10 and Perez was 16th. In 2019, the top 2 Lowry and Sterne both ranked top 10. Strong iron play is usually the name of the game.
SG: Around The Greens
In 2020, none of the top four ranked better than 27th. In 2019, Lowry was 5th, although Sterne was 29th. Short game is not a key skill we're looking for.
In 2020, Westwood ranked 3rd but Fleetwood was 52nd. In 2019, Lowry and Sterne were both top 20. It's not an essential stat to contend, but as always it helps.
Par 4's 6th and 14th were the two toughest last year, both playing over 4.1 on average. The start to the back 9 is tricky as 10, 11 and 14 all ranked in the five toughest holes.
The four par 5s (2nd, 8th, 10th and 18th) played the easiest holes last year and need to be taken advantage of, along with the par 4 13th.
Fast or Slow Start
Lowry won wire-to-wire in 2019. In 2020 though, none of the top 5 were within 4 shots of the lead after round 1! You don't have to fly out the blocks here to win.
The 16th and 17th are both long tough par 4's, and the 562 yard par 5 18th played the easiest in 2020.
1pt Ew (1/5, 8 places) Victor Perez 30/1@ Betfair
We liked Tommy Fleetwood as our headline pick as he turns 30 this week however he plays in the worst of the conditions on Thursday so is left out. At more than twice the price, Victor Perez looks a likely challenger to go one better than his 2nd place finish here last year. Finished 7th on his last start of 2020 in Dubai which he should take momentum from. Finally, he is a terrific links player which previous champions Westwood, Lowry and Fleetwood all have in common.
1pt Ew (1/5, 7 places) Andy Sullivan 40/1 @ Betfred
Andy also finished the year in great form with 10th and 2nd place in the Dubai double header. 6th in his first start of 2020 and 4th in his first event post lockdown shows he can hit the ground running and overall he has the all round game to succeed around here.
0.5pts Ew (1/5, 6 places) Ross Fisher 90/1 @ Unibet
Ross has a terrific record in Abu Dhabi with a 6th, 2nd, 9th and 19tg in his last 6 starts. He really should have won here in 2018 and will be looking to put that right this week. Loves playing in this part of the world and showed his game is close with a 7th place finish at the Golf in Dubai Championship (his 2nd last start of season). Nice early tee time also.
0.5pts Ew (1/5, 7 places) Joachim Lagergren 150/1 @ Skybet
We highlighted in the preview recent winners have strong links form and our thoughts turned to the Swede who has excellent pedigree in the wind. A European Tour champion already in Sicilia and top 5 finishes in Dubai and Qatar, he is perfectly capable of a strong finish here.
0.5pts Ew (1/5, 6 places) Laporta 200/1 @ Unibet
Francesco didn't qualify for the season ended at DP World Tour Championship but did finish 2nd in his last start at the Golf in Dubai Championship. The bookmakers appear to think this was just a one off, however, he is a confidence player who can stay hot - he won twice in three weeks on the Challenge Tour in 2019. 17th in Abu Dhabi here last year. He tees off in the first group on Thursday so should get round before the wind kicks up.
FIRST ROUND LEADER MARKET BETS
0.5pt Ew (1/5, 6 Places) Tom Lewis 70/1 @ Unibet
Tom was 9th here in 2019 and emphasised his liking for golf in these parts with a 3rd in Dubai last year. Finished off the season nicely with a 23rd place at the World Championship playing his last 3 rounds in the same score as winner Fitzpatrick. Capable of going low, he is one to watch to take the first round lead on Thursday.
0.5pt Ew (1/4, 5 Places) Laurie Canter 70/1 @ Bet365
Laurie was possibly the most improved player on tour last year with four top 5's in his last 9 starts. He leaped from 518th to 132nd in the world rankings in 2020 and appears to be feeling more comfortable at this level each week. He is one of the strongest driver on tour which makes life a lot easier at Abu Dhabi Golf Course. Another with great momentum and a nice early tee time.
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23 January 2021 6:30pm
What a difference a day makes. This time yesterday Tyrrell Hatton had a five shot lead and it looked for all the world like he was the man to beat with bookies rating him at 8/11 to convert. Fast forward 24 hours and Hatton now trails Rory McIlroy by a shot.
Hatton spoke of his disappointment in his post round interview and said nothing really went his way. That's backed up by the stats as he ranked 4th in Greens in Regulation for the round and leads the tournament in the Strokes Gained: Approach category over the three days. We expect him to bounce back tomorrow and put in a strong showing.
Rory McIlroy is the man Hatton must overtake and the former will be happy conditions are expected to be much the same as the third round. A maximum wind of 13mph will suit Rory and allow him to attack as it did today. He struggled during round two as the wind kicked up and it's hugely advantageous for him that it looks set to remain around the 12/13mph mark.
Rory has a 3⭐ Golf Betting Club Pressure Performance Rating, owing to his recent inconsistent performances in contention. He's now gone 14 months without a win and will be desperate to convert. Several of those months were outwith his control as golf ceased due to the threat of Coronavirus, and he also took time off as he welcomed the birth of his daughter, Poppy. We've yet to see what effect becoming a father has had on him, but often the sense of perspective a new child brings helps with the pressures of a Sunday. We may see Rory benefit from that tomorrow.
Those of you who backed yesterday's bets (David Lipsky/Mikko Korhonen to win without Hatton and McIlroy) will be nervously clutching your betting slips tomorrow as Lipsky enters the final round one shot behind in that market. With four places each way, he has a two shot cushion going into the final round.
We have outside hopes for our pre-event selection, Victor Perez, to sneak an each way place.
We have added one final bet.
- 2PTS Tommy Fleetwood 9/2 @ Betfair (WIN ONLY)
Tommy has fought back superbly from a difficult start to his opening round on Thursday. Three over par through 11 holes, he now trails by two shots and will relish the opportunity to have a run at McIlroy and Hatton. We aren't huge fans of Tommy when in front, but he is a fantastic chaser. Final rounds of 64 and 67 at the Portugal Masters and Scottish Open saw him go close to taking those titles last year. His wins here in 2017 and 2018 were both from off the pace and he closed with a 63 last year. Tommy clearly likes Sundays in Abu Dhabi. Finally, he ranks 5th in SG: Putting this week and has only had one bogey since that horrible start on Thursday. If he's to chase down Hatton and McIlroy, that's a combination we like.
22 January 2021 8:30pm
|Hatton (Thru 13)||-12|
|Langasque (Thru 16)||-7|
|McIlroy (Thru 14)||-7|
Rory McIlroy was still leading by the time he teed off today which was ominous for the chasing pack. He opened with birdies at the 1st and 3rd but then made a silly bogey at the 4th followed by a disastrous double bogey at the 5th after a wayward drive. He would to fall back to -7, where he would end the day.
Meanwhile, Hatton made his 3rd eagle of the week on the 2nd and reeled off four birdies between 7-10 to take a FIVE shot lead into tomorrow. Bookies now rate him best price 8/11 and we certainly wouldn't advise laying him at that price.
Hatton is one of the best front runners in golf at the moment. He is one of a handful of Player Profiles that have a five star Golf Betting Club Pressure Performance Rating and three wins since November 2019 says just about everything you need to know.
It will more than likely that it will take a mighty low weekend from the chasing pack to catch him now, although McIlroy and Fleetwood are two of the most capable chasers in the game. We won't be touching the outright market as the cream looks set to rise and the prices offer no value for us but let's hope the gap is narrowed for an exciting Sunday finish.
Conditions are set to be more gentle with the wind forecasted to blow at a peak of 12mph. We have selected two small plays for Saturday.
- 0.5PTS EW DAVID LIPSKY (Without McIlroy and Hatton) - 30/1 @ Betfair (1/4 1,2,3,4)
- 0.5PTS EW MIKKO KORHONEN (Without McIlroy and Hatton) - 35/1 @ Betfair (1/4 1,2,3,4)
We would expect that Tommy Fleetwood may win this 'best of the rest' market after his superb fightback yesterday but if he is to throw in one of his bad rounds, these two at -6 could take advantage. Lipsky is a much improved player and appears to have taken much confidence from his win on the Korn Ferry Tour last year. He was 16th in Abu Dhabi in 2019 so we know he likes the course. Korhonen has two European Tour wins and 8 Top 3 finishes, he has the game to bag another. He still has 7 holes to go in the easier conditions on Saturday. Small stakes advised here due to the nature of the market.
21 January 2021 7:30pm
The start of European Tour action was delayed for a few hours due to fog, and it proved pivotal as the weather started to turn shortly after Rory and the morning wave finished. The wind picked up for the afternoon players which has meant that past champions Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry are almost out of it already.
The afternoon wave still have between 5-12 holes to go but it seems like they are going to have to catch up in the worst of the conditions. It is entirely possible that Rory and Hatton will have to come back on Saturday and finish off their rounds in easier conditions.
The leading pair were flawless today in the best of the conditions. Rory cruised to a 64 and although he holed some long putts, he missed his fair share of shorter birdie attempts too. Hatton produced two eagles and didn't even seem like he was in top gear for much of the round. It would be foolish to think they won't be around come Sunday.
For this reason, no bets are recommended today, although if you are really keen for a play, there are some with each way potential at massive odds. On the group at 3 and 4 under par, James Morrison (200), Steven Brown (200) and Nacho Elvira (150) all have late round two tee times, which could mean they play most of their rounds in the easier conditions on Saturday morning. Although unlikely these three can keep up with Hatton and McIlroy, it is not unimaginable that one could bag a top 5 with help from the weather gods.
We'll be back to assess the state of play tomorrow, hopefully the picture will be clearer by then!
- No bet