After a very successful and exciting SA Open the European crank it up a notch and present us with the 13th edition of the star studded Abu Dhabi Championships. Some of the very best from Europe including Rose, Rory, Stenson and Casey tee it up with a very welcome sprinkling of quality from across the pond including world number 1, Dustin Johnson and new affiliate European Tour member Matt Kucher.
On offer for the players is a course best described as an oasis carved from the desert, a huge prize fund and luxury oozing from every inch of this exquisite venue.
And for us I fully expect a fantastic show, some intriguing battles and a chance to see how the core of the European tour tackle stage 1 of the desert swing and make in roads towards securing Ryder Cup spots.
Length: 7,583 yards
Par: 72 (With 4 par 5's. All under 600 yards but only just on 2 of them.)
Design and Layout: Designed by Peter Harradine in 1998. Modern desert course layout manicured to perfection. Huge bunkers, an abundance of water (10 holes feature), narrow fairways, thick lush rough, quick greens, flat but extremely exposed.
Greens: Bermuda Tidwarf, running at 12'6" and fairly firm.
Fairways: Narrow in comparison to tour average, well positioned bunkers and water to contend with on a few shots.
Rough: Dense Rye, extremely lush and often very penal, however around the greens, where cut height is shorter it can present nice lies that make chipping a little easier.
Key Stats and Attributes
This week my main focus will be on those that drive the ball well, distance will play a big factor as will accuracy. So a very good overall tee ball game is essential.
Accuracy into the green will also play a big part and those that create the most chances will find themselves contending come Sunday.
Par 5 scoring, the bigger hitters will no doubt have the upper hand on these holes (562, 582, 597 and 599 yards) and certainly worth considering for DK scoring purposes.
Last but not least a little bit of World Class Talent. There are some huge names out there this week and a lot to play for. This event will be fiercely contested and I expect the cream to rise to the top.
Value, there is certainly plenty to be had out there but likely at the cost of higher ownership.
Dustin Johnson $11,800
Justin Rose $11,400
Branden Grace $9,700
Tyrell Hatton $9,500
Tommy Fleetwood $9,400
Rafa Cabrera-Bello $8,800
Hao-Tong Li $8,300
Pablo Larrazabal $8,000
George Coetzee $7,700
Matthew Fitzpatrick $7,600
Ross Fisher $7,600
Ian Poulter $7,400
Alexander Bjork $7,300
Wade Ormsby $7,100
$7,000 or less
Shubhankar Sharma $6,900
Soren Kjeldsen $6,900
Nino Bertasio $6,800