Date: Jan 16–19, 2020
Course: Abu Dhabi Golf Club – Abu Dhabi GC, Abu Dhabi, UAE
- PABLO LARRAZABAL (SPA) 66/1- EW – WAS 100/1 MONDAY
- BENJAMIN HEBERT (FRA) 100/1-EW-BETFAIR/PP 8 PLACES
- THOMAS PIETERS (BEL) 28/1-EW-EVERYWHERE
- GAVIN GREEN (MAS) 125/1-EW- PP 8 PLACES – 150/1 BETFRED
- GEORGE COETZEE (RSA) 90/1-CORAL 7 PLACES
Abu Dhabi Golf Club is home to 27 holes of Championship golf. The National, Abu Dhabi’s 18-hole Championship course, provides a tough but fair challenge and is home to one of the European Tour’s most popular events, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, A Rolex Series Event.
With lush fairways, strategically placed bunkers and immaculate greens, the course has been described as a “super course” by leading representatives of the golfing press. The 162-hectares of the Abu Dhabi Golf Club also features the floodlit 9-hole Garden Course, which provides a great test for those keen to enjoy Championship golf once the sun’s gone down!
- 2019 – Shane Lowry 60/1
- 2018 – Tommy Fleetwood 20/1
- 2017 – Tommy Fleetwood 60/1
- 2016 – Rickie Fowler 16/1
- 2015 – Gary Stal 150/1
- 2014 – Pablo Larrazabal 125/1
- 2013 – Jamie Donaldson 66/1
- 2012 – Robert Rock 150/1
PABLO LARRAZABAL (SPA) 66/1
Should have a good here this week. The Spaniard loves this course and the setup is always right up his alley. Winner of this event back in 2014 and runner up in 2017, he also managed a top ten here last year as well. Plenty of experience and should again have a very solid week.
Two main trends that stand out for us this week is his Greens in regulation at an impressive 77.77% nearly 10% better than the Tour average, also he has an amazing putting game. This has sometimes been his nemesis but over the 2019 season he has worked very hard on his putting stroke.
He should be making plenty of birdies and could see him challenging for his sixth European Title here.
BENJAMIN HEBERT (FRA) 100/1
Lots to like here with Benjamin. He is fresh and ready to hit the ground running after all this will only be his second event of the 2019/20 season. He is well rested and looks sharpe out there in practice.
His last event was the Mauritius Open where he finished in 4th Place. He seems to have lost some distance off the tee from what we can see after following him a lot this week. In a way that is kind of a positive as his accuracy has improved to 62%. Around the greens and putting he is always solid and sits inside the top ten for most of these stats.
He has already added the Rolex Trophy to his list of wins from the Challenge Tour but surprisingly never won a European Tour event. Could this be his week? I think if he comes out the blocks firing, he should feature over the weekend.
THOMAS PIETERS (BEL) 28/1
His last win was only a mere four months ago at the D+D Real Czech Masters, beating Arnaus by one shot.
If there was ever a course that was suited to Thomas’s overall game then the Abu Dhabi GC would be it. He must just turn up here licking his lips and can’t wait to get out there playing. He has had a nice break away over the Xmas period having also only played the one event this season again at the Mauritius Open.
I just feel that 2020 could be a massive breakthrough year for Pieters. He is now a better all-round player; he reached the world number 36 back in 2017 I think he finishes better this season, currently ranks at 82nd. He might well be a Major champion this year as well.
But getting back to this week and everything the stats prove you need to win around here he has them all ticked.
GAVIN GREEN (MAS) 125/1
Big price for a player who was talk of the town in 2019 without picking up a win. More to come from him this season for sure. Two events played two cuts made an average position of fifteenth. The team noted his driving could be an issue around here as some of the landing areas have been made much tighter over the past few years.
But positives were on trackman early on this week, he hit over fifty drivers and amazingly was as high as 65% accuracy which is a pretty steep jump from his tour average of 44% after two events.
This is why he just edges it for me with a bigger price, we know what a great putter he is and tee to green he is on the button. The big dog looks to be turning a corner.
GEORGE COETZEE (RSA) 90/1
Last of my picks for this week goes to George. He played well last week shooting four rounds in the sixties. The reason I think he is so high is because he missed the cut here the past two years. I think we can disregard that and take some positives from his overall past results here: 6/9/4/37/35/60
The team just feel he is playing with a lot more freedom these days, and for good reason a seasoned pro and plenty of money in the bank. Could see him taking a step back this year and picking and choosing what events he likes and feels he could win.
The thing I like most with George around here is the fact he hits it miles off the tee, if he can improve his accuracy then who knows. Always been a good putter so should make plenty of birdies this week. Probably a big ask to win it but you never know.
JANUARY 15-19, 2020
PGA WEST – LA QUINTA, CA
- KEVIN NA (USA) 66/1- EW- SKYBET 7 PLACES
- BILLY HORSCHEL (USA) 30/1-EW-BOYLE SPORTS 8 PLACES
- BRENDON STEELE (USA) 80/1-EW-CORAL 7 PLACES
- VAUGHN TAYLOR (USA) 55/1-EW-BETFAIR/PP 8 PLACES
- SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER (USA) 35/1-EW- BETFAIR/PP 8 PLACES
- SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER FIRST ROUND LEADER NO PRICES YET
Rickie Fowler returns to the California desert for the first time since 2014. He notched a T5 in his last start at the Sentry Tournament of Champions… Francesco Molinari is making his 2020 debut, and will play The American Express for the first time since 2017… Matthew Wolff makes his debut in the desert… American Presidents Cup team member Tony Finau will return to the PGA TOUR for the first time since the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November… International Presidents Cup team members Byeong Hun An, Abraham Ancer, and Sungjae Im are also teeing it up… 17-year-old Akshay Bhatia is in the field on a sponsor’s exemption, while newly-minted pro (and member of Stanford’s 2019 NCAA championship-winning team) Isaiah Salinda also received an exemption… Seven past champions are in the field.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points
COURSE: TPC Stadium Course at PGA West, 7,113 yards, par 72. This is the fifth year as host course. The 1986 design is a Pete Dye product. Dye passed away on January 9th. The event’s pro-am is also played on PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament course (7,159/72) and La Quinta CC (7,060/72) in the first three rounds. This is year No. 11 for La Quinta CC, and year No. 5 for the Nicklaus course.
STORYLINES: This is the first year for Phil Mickelson to play official tournament host, although he was an ambassador for the event in the past. Mickelson is back in action for the first time since the WGC-HSBC Champions event in November. Mickelson turns 50 in June… Adam Hadwin, whose wife Jessica just had a baby (the couple’s first) will not tee it up this year. Hadwin would have been a popular pick this week, as he’s finished second two of the last three years and of course, shot a 59 in 2017… Only five non-Americans have ever won The American Express since its inception in 1960… American Express was announced as the new title sponsor in September… The pro-am format puts two amateurs with two pros in a foursome. The amateurs switch courses and professional playing partners for three days.
72-HOLE RECORD: 260, Patrick Reed (2014).
18-HOLE RECORD: 59, David Duval (5th round, 1999 at PGA West/Palmer), Adam Hadwin (3rd round, 2017 at La Quinta CC). Stadium Course record: 63, Jonathan Fricke (2nd round, 2008 Qualifying Finals*), Whee Kim (2nd round, 2012 Qualifying Finals*). Nicklaus Tournament record: 59, Harrison Frazar (4th round, 2008 Qualifying Finals*). Note: Q-School does not count as an official PGA TOUR event.
LAST TIME: A Sunday charge from Adam Long resulted in the rookie winning The American Express in just his fifth TOUR start. Adam Hadwin and Phil Mickelson finished T2 at 25-under. Long was 175 yards from the hole on the par-4 18th closer when he knocked an iron to just 13 feet. Hadwin and Mickelson were both approximately 40 feet away and neither could convert their birdie tries. That opened the door for Long to notch his maiden TOUR victory. Talor Gooch finished fourth, Dominic Bozzelli finished fifth, and 2018 winner Jon Rahm finished sixth.
- 2019 – Adam Long 600/1
- 2018 – Jon Rahm 10/1
- 2017 – Hudson Swafford 66/1
- 2016 – Jason Dufner 40/1
- 2015 – Bill Haas 30/1
- 2014 – Patrick Reed 135/1
- 2013 – Brian Gay 80/1
- 2012 – Mark Wilson 125/1
KEVIN NA (USA) 66/1
One of the best resort type golfers out there. Also plays a lot of desert style tracks and of course living in Vegas he has plenty to practice on.
Winner at the Shriners Hospitals in October 2019 beating a very strong field. I feel he could add his fifth PGA Tour title here this week. Sneaky long of the tee is a positive around here, and the fact he can putt is also a big plus.
We saw him working on drills from 50 to 100 Yards in practice and he looked good with distance control. So, should be setting up quite a few birdie chances. Good scrambling is also high on the list this week and he is pretty good in that department too, managing nearly 70%.
Overall putting he also sits inside the top ten in the PGA Tour rankings. Normally a slow starter so no need to panic if he is not firing in round one.
BILLY HORSCHEL (USA) 30/1
I backed Billy four times last year, out of those he managed to get us a couple of place returns with some good odds. Growing up in Florida he is well used to playing resort type golf. He is well overdue another PGA Tour win since his last one was back in 2018 at the Zurich Classic.
His 2019 season was still impressive without winning an event, he went twenty-six events only missing two cuts and earned four top tens’.
This season he has nearly matched the number of top ten’s with three already in six starts. I think he wins in 2020 and this set up could be right up his alley.
BRENDON STEELE (USA) 60/1
Lots to like here this week with a player who is on fire. Forget him losing in the playoff last week, the fact he managed to get to the playoff was impressive and some great golf to get there.
Things to factor are his past three wins on the PGA Tour have all been desert resort type courses. The Safeway he has won twice and the Valero Texas Open, in fact here should suit him even more with three courses being played this week covering everything he enjoys.
- Bermuda/Poa Positive
- Dye Positive
- Desert Positive
- West Coast Positive
I can also see why he is at 60’s he does miss a hell of a lot of cuts to be fair. I feel he should make the cut this week, he is starting on the easier of the three courses at La Quinta. On paper this is well worth noting as most of the past winners normally start from La Quinta in round one.
VAUGHN TAYLOR (USA) 50/1
All over Vaughn this week as quite a few people will be and for good reason. He is playing some of his best golf of late. He started slow last week at the Sony opening with a 75 but normally a good fast starter to events so was a bit surprising, but saying that he rounded off the last three rounds in 66/66/67 not too shabby.
If you take his last three tournament scoring average 67.15. This week he will be starting on the Nicklas course which is one of the tougher tracks but we will get a good idea where he is and how he is feeling if he manages to go low early.
The courses are all positive fits for me as results have proven on similar tracks. He could be a dark horse this week.
SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER (USA) 30/1
This guy is only 23 and can see him winning a lot. Already making a name for himself after only turning Professional in 2018 he started on the Korn Ferry winning the Evans Scholars in 2019.
He is in his first full year on the PGA Tour and what a start, with already recording three top ten’s, two top twenties’. WOW!!!
This week we will see very low scoring and he is the birdie master, with just below five a round is impressive. To top that he won the RSM Birdies Fore Love competition making the most birdies and eagles “139” in the fall portion of the 2020 season.
He loves playing team type golf so this Pro-Am style should be right up his alley.
I would also back him to be the first-round leader.