Abu Dhabi betting preview
The two events in South Africa have been an interesting aperitif but the serious business in 2010 really starts now with a stellar Abu Dhabi Championship.
The European big guns are out in force for one of the marquee events of the campaign with a new season of major championships and a Ryder Cup to look forward to.
Race To Dubai winner Lee Westwood makes his return to the fray this week and a comeback in the deserts of the Middle East look the obvious starting point following his superb victory in the Dubai Championship.
He said recently: “I am itching to get back and am very positive that my game will be in good shape.
“The rough is up this year and the longer and straighter you can drive the ball will mean a massive advantage. It is a golf course that suits my game.”
Second in the event in 2008, Westwood is the man everyone will be looking to topple from his perch and his clash this week with Rory McIlroy will be fascinating.
The brilliant Irishman went into the Dubai World Championship with aspirations of his own about winning the Race To Dubai and although a valiant third, he was comfortably put in his place by Westwood – for the time being.
Who will take first blood in 2010 remains to be seen but the majority of bookies can’t split them on the 12/1 mark.
A couple of points bigger is Geoff Ogilvy, who brings recent winning form into the event.
The Aussie got a flyer at the SBS Championship in Hawaii and although he has been amongst the golfing elite for a number of years now, he has still struggled to find the consistency that can keep him into the world’s top two or three players.
But his effort at Kapalua and reaction afterwards suggest he is starting to find himself in the right place mentally: “I was really happy with the game. When I play well, I feel like I can win any tournament and I feel like one of the best players in the world.”
Ogilvy makes his debut in Abu Dhabi but I don’t think that should be an issue.
He is a renowned player on desert courses and the layout should be right up his street.
Another interesting fact is that this will be Ogilvy’s last event for a month as his wife Juli is about to give birth to their third child, so is unlikely to be seen out again before his defence of the Accenture Match Play title.
Sure to be keen to put on a big display, Ogilvy is very much a leading contender this week.
Second pick goes to resurgent Swede Robert Karlsson, who looks a big price at 50/1 with sportingbet.
The 2008 Order Of Merit suffered a health setback last season due to a due to a debilitating eye complaint which saw him sidelined from May until October.
But Karlsson got back in the groove over the closing couple of months and second places in Japan and also at the World Cup with Henrik Stenson proved he was back on top form.
“I want to keep that momentum going,” he said in prerpration for this event and has been working hard over the winter to make sure he hits the ground running.
His form in Abu Dhabi has got better (T30-T14-T11) and he has a very solid profile when it comes to events in the Middle East.
With his health restored, Karlsson has a lot going for him and the 50s could look generous come Sunday.
Another player coming back from an interrupted campaign in 2009 is Martin Kaymer and the German looks to have decent claims of repeating his 2008 victory here.
“It holds great memories for me and I have been doing a lot of work over the winter to get back to my peak,” he said.
“I am looking forward to getting out and mounting a challenge.”
He put up a tremendous defence when T2 a shot behind Paul Casey 12 months ago and I have a feeling he will enjoy a sparkling 2010 which can get off a to an ideal start on one of his favourite courses.
Casey (had a warm-up in Hawaii) and Stenson (good form prior to Christmas) are past winners as well – the former twice – and their claims are obvious as well in a market where it is tough to make a logical case for those beyond the head of the betting.
1.5pts e.w. Robert Karlsson at 50/1 (sportingbet 1/4 1,2,3,4,5). Back to full fitness now and looks to have been overlooked in the betting.
2pts win Geoff Ogilvy at 14/1 (Paddy Power). Recent winning form and feels capable of repeating the dose.
2pts win Martin Kaymer at 14/1 (General). Past winner at the course and keen to make a fast start to 2010.
Kaymer WON at 14/1
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