The European Tour’s Desert Swing gets underway this week as the world’s top players head to the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
With an impressive track record around Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Martin Kaymer is the 7/1 joint-favourite alongside Rory McIlroy.
Kaymer has made this event his own in the last few years and is looking to win the event for the third consecutive year.
McIlroy also has an impressive record in this tournament. He finished second here last year and also came third in 2010, but has never quite managed to get the better of the dominant Kaymer.
Woods is a difficult one to call this week. He has no previous experience of this course but does have an excellent record in the Middle East having dominated the Dubai Desert Classic from 2001 to 2008 with a top-five finish in every start.
He finally got back to winning ways in the Chevron World Challenge in December and showed incredible mental strength to finish with two birdies to overhaul Zach Johnson. He seems to have rid himself of the errant shots over the last couple of months and has spoken of how he finally has control back in his iron play.
Looking at each-way bets there are a number of other players with good records in this tournament at 25/1. One of those is Charl Schwartzel, who narrowly missed out on the play-off in last week’s Volvo Golf Champions. He also finished tied for eighth here last year and is a contender everywhere he plays these days.
With Ladbrokes paying out on the top five for each-way bets I see no reason why Schwartzel can’t get himself into the places.
The other player who I think will go well this week is Sergio Garcia at 25/1. The Spaniard finished 2011 in style with back-to-back wins signalling a return to his early career form. He finished third in this event in 2007 and followed that up with an eighth-place finish in 2009.
Garcia will be well rested and ready to go this week having not played since he claimed the Andalucia Masters title at Valderrama. Hopefully 2012 will be a big year for him.
Plenty will fancy Alvaro Quiros this week at 33/1 after his win in the Dubai World Championship. Quiros has played down his chances this week suggesting he may be a bit rusty, which is more than enough to persuade me to avoid going for him again after tipping him in the 2011 finale.
Elsewhere in the field Nicholas Colsaerts looks decent value for an each-way finish at 50/1 off the back of his performance in the Dubai World Championships and his fourth-place finish in the Volvo Golf Champions.
One other who deserves a mention is Jaco Van Zyl at 66/1. I’ve tipped him each-way in his last two tournaments (Africa Open and Joburg Open) at much shorter prices and he has returned a profit for followers of this guide. I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs in a stronger field this week with a view to the season ahead.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship betting guide and tips: