The one to be on: Henrik Stenson
All eyes were on Rory McIlroy until his dodgy back forced him to pull out – and his absence throws the Abu Dhabi Championship wide open.
With the four-time Major champ not in the field, it would be naïve to think Dustin Johnson wouldn’t be a major threat while, historically, Martin Kaymer has saved some of his best form for this tournament.
But I’m going to go for the super Swede to get his 2017 off to a cracking start. The last time Stenson failed to top 10 was the week before he won The Open – when he was T13th at the Scottish Open. That was six months ago.
He hasn’t won either since lifting the Claret Jug, but was close at the Olympics, T2nd at the HSBC-World Champions and T9th in Dubai at the DP World Tour Championship.
Stenson has missed the cut here two of the last three years but was tied 3rd 12 months ago and, at 10/1 before McIlroy’s withdrawal, he’s my type of price.
The each-way back: Tyrrell Hatton
Winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, 2nd in the closing DP World Tour Championship, Tyrrell Hatton came out big last year.
Bear in mind, he also finished 2nd in the Scottish Open, T5th at The Open (to far less hype than Beef), and T10th at the USPA.
So why is he 33-1 for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship?
Two reasons. He’s lining up in a stellar field and isn’t the headline name he should be on the European Tour.
For that we should be grateful. It might help us cash in this week.
In the form of his life, Hatton has shown a past penchant for getting out of the blocks quickly.
T6th in 2015 and T10th the year before in this event, I’m hoping his recent exploits have helped him come of age.
With some oddsmakers offering place finishes for the top 5, that could help us profit.
The dark horse: Alejandro Canizares
I’m a fan of horses for courses. The Spaniard has shown enough form in Abu Dhabi to suggest 125/1 isn’t a hopeless punt.
Tied 5th 12 months ago, he was also T12th the week before and has some reasonable form to look back on – specifically a tied 3rd in the Nedbank.
His last missed cut in this event was in 2011. With the dark horse, we’re looking for a player under the radar. Canizares might just be our guy.
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