First European Tour Event of 2019
It’s about time the European Tour got the new year up and running, don’t get me wrong I have really enjoyed the time off and a chance to dedicate that found spare time on the range and course. But truth be told , even though I have enjoyed a nice little run of greenscreens and cash pay-outs from PGA events, I have really missed sweating out European Tour line ups on DraftKings and watching golf on the courses I’m most familiar with and the players I know best.
Talking about being familiar with these venues I have just found out, later this year I will be making myself much more familiar with this weeks venue as I will be heading out to Abu Dhabi myself to play in a pro-am and two of my four rounds will take place at Abu Dhabi golf club. So watching the golf this year from home is gonna have a new and interesting twist for me as I try to understand how to make my game work at this venue.
Anyway back to world of elite golf and proper prize money. This years event at Abu Dhabi GC will be the 14th edition of the Championship. Now part of the Rolex Series and the beginning of our desert swing this is set to be a superb showpiece and perfect way to get the season back in motion… maybe worth waiting for, now that I think about it.
The Course and Venue
Length: 7,583 yards
Par: 72 (4 x par 5’s, 4 x par 3’s)
Greens: Bermuda Tifdwarf, expected speeds of 12ft 6”
Fairways: Relatively flat and narrower than most on tour.
Rough: Ryegrass throughout, over seeded in October, deeper cuts are consistent and described as penal.
Water comes into play on ten of the holes and predominately runs down the right hand side of holes, meaning that the often safer bail out right is negated and if anything players will want to miss on the less favoured left side.
As always this venue has been prepared to the very highest of standards and a big reason why certain players like Stenson and Kaymer have enjoyed returning here so frequently.
Wednesday (Day 1) - This is calmer of the two opening days. Winds are consistent all day and not expected to get much higher than 7 kph or 4 mph. Cooler first thing in the morning with temperatures expected to be around 21 C or 72 F, rising as the day goes on reaching approx 30 C or 86 F. - Looking at Wednesdays days play I would much rather be out in the heat of the afternoon, when the ball will be performing better and flying further.
Thursday (Day 2) - The breeze will be up a little on day 2, calmer conditions first thing and as play draws to an end. Wind speeds in the afternoon are expected to reach 21 kph or 13 mph. temperatures will be very similar to that of Wednesday, again cooler in the morning and heating up as the day goes on. - looking solely at this days play i think I would prefer to take my chances with the slightly cooler temperatures in the morning but the less breezy conditions.
WAVE ADVANTAGE - There is a slight advantage for those on the pm/am wave. How significant that advantage is may only equate to a shot over the two days and wit that in mind I wont be factoring this element in completely when making my selections. However, I may well use this information to my advantage when narrowing down my picks or selecting between two players I find difficult to separate.
Key Stats and Strategy
By the time the boys tee it up on Wednesday, it will have been exactly one month since we last saw a European Tour event take place. What each individual has been up to over the holiday period, how much they have worked or how much they have rested has been clear to see in some of the filed thanks to their activity on social media etc, but realistically for the majority of the filed it really is anyone’s guess.
A good number of players in the filed will also be using new equipment this week. Of course they would of been doing testing and fine tuning what ends up in the bag ready for the tournament play but for most this will be there first competitive round with the new equipment and most likely would not of been doing this testing in the same climate or conditions that they will experience this week.
In short because of the above variable and others that are maybe a little less obvious. I will pay a little less attention towards statistical data available like recent form and focus more on areas like past course history and general player suitability for the layout their due to play.
Good all round game off the tee is absolutely essential around here, hitting it big is going to be a huge advantage on the monstrous par 5’s and hitting it on the short stuff frequently will help massively with keeping those bogey’s or worse off the card.
Short game needs to be tidy, weather that be to create a scoring opportunity with wedge or less in hand or keeping those big numbers off the card with errors off the tee or into the green.
Greens here are supposed to be amazing to putt on and somewhat on the slick side. Great pace control is gonna make those pars far less stressful and if anything I kinda prefer a good lag putter than someone super aggressive.
As always this event is extremely well supported by the regulars on tour and with huge thanks to the larger prize fund that comes with a Rolex Series event and the continual support from its sponsors HSBC. They have once again been able to attract a handful of superstars in the game including DJ, Brooks, Stenson and fan favourite Tommy Fleetwood. Who this year will not only be defending his title but going for a hattrick of wins in consecutive years. There will also be a little interest to see if Martin Kaymer can join a very illustrious list of players to win the same European Tour event four or more times, this might be highly unlikely but if history is made then surely a win here is way more than enough to shut those up that believe course history isn't a thing.
Outside of that and as pathetic as it is I actually cant wait to see who over here if anyone actually leaves the pin in.. Personally I think I could really warm to leaving the pin in for almost everything like Bryson, but then again I consider myself not to be the most confident of putters and any help I can get I’m taking.
Henrik Stenson - $10,500 -
Louis Oosthuizen - $10,200 -
$9,000 - $10,000
Matt Wallace - $9,400 -
Thomas Pieters - $9,300 -
$8,000 - $9,000
Ross Fisher - $8,400 -
Tom Lewis - $8,300 -
$7,000 - $8,000
Lucas Bjerregaard - $8,000 -
Brandon Stone - $7,700 -
Erik Van Rooyen - $7,100 -
$7,000 or less
Nicolas Colsaerts - $6,900 -
Matthew Southgate- $6,800 -
Joachim Hansen - $6,500 -
Outright Winner E/W
Louis Oostuizen - 18/1 - 2 points e/w
Tom Lewis 45/1 - 1 point e/w
Brandon Stone - 90/1 - 1 point e/w
Erik Van Rooyen - 110/1 - 1 point e/w
First Round Leader
Tom Lewis 66/1 - 1 point e/w
Brandon Stone - 80/1 - 1 point e/w
Dean Burmester - 70/1 - 1 point e/w
Joachim Hansen 175/1 - 1 point e/w