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Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship: Thomas Pieters Returns to Defend the Title He Won 12 Months Ago

Written by: Dave Tindall
Updated January 18, 2023
12 min read
  • Yas Links hosts again after the event moved from Abu Dhabi GC last year 

  • Thomas Pieters returns to defend the title he won 12 months ago

  • This is the first strokeplay event of the calendar year on the DP World Tour

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Odds

The odds for this tournament are provided by Bet365. Click on the odds below to head to Bet365 and place a bet.



Tyrrell Hatton



Tommy Fleetwood



Shane Lowry



Alex Noren



Thomas Pieters



Robert MacIntyre



Seamus Power



Ryan Fox



Min Woo Lee



Patrick Reed



Victor Perez



Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Our Picks

  • Victor Perez was the joint-top points scorer at the Hero Cup last week and plays well on links tracks. Back the Frenchman at +3300 each way (1/4 1-2-3-4-5) with bet365.
  • Seamus Power is tournament sharp and has a strong record on Paspalum grass. He can beat a rusty Patrick Reed in a 72-hole match bet at -125 with bet365.
  • Francesco Molinari played a starring role as player-captain in last week’s Hero Cup and can thrive in links conditions. Back him for a Top 10 at +360 with DraftKings Sportsbook.

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Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Predictions

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Predictions

After last week’s Hero Cup team event, the DP World Tour stays in Abu Dhabi for one of its showpiece offerings.

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is the first of two consecutive Rolex Series events and many in the field will stay in the United Arab Emirates to contest next week’s Dubai Desert Classic.

Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where Continental Europe beat Great Britain & Ireland in last week’s Hero Cup, hosted this tournament for 16 years.

But in 2022 the event moved to Yas Links on Yas Island. Apart from the change of scenery, there was one other very notable difference too: the scoring.

The average winning total at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from 2018-2021 had averaged a hair under 20-under but at Yas Links last year Thomas Pieters recorded the only double digits score under par.

His tally of 10-under ousted Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello and India’s Shubhankar Sharma by a single shot.

Yas Links is a modern course designed by American Kyle Phillips and opened in 2010. It’s described as the first true links course in the UAE and was created from a flat piece of land.

The Par 72 which has rolling terrain, measures 7,425 yards, and features Paspalum grass, the strain used at several tournaments on the PGA Tour: Mayakoba, Corales Puntacana, and Puerto Rico. 

As with other links courses, scoring is very much determined by the wind, and the forecast this week suggests blowy conditions on Thursday morning but fairly modest breezes of around 10mph on the weekend. 

Perez Has an Ideal Profile

Over on the PGA Tour, there’s a stat that shows that six of the last seven winners of this week’s American Express in California had played the previous week’s Sony Open in Hawaii.

That makes sense. The Sony is the first full-field event of the new calendar year and many players are shaking off the rust after the Festive break or even bedding in new clubs.

Similarly, anyone who contested the Hero Cup last week is both tournaments sharp and acclimatized to UAE conditions/time zone.

It was the same situation in 2018 when this event followed the EurAsia Cup. The theory of being match-fit played out as just about everyone on the European team ended up in the top 20.

So for this week’s main bet, it seems prudent to land on one of those who contested the Ryder Cup-style event at Abu Dhabi GC last week and my pick is going to be one of Francesco Molinari’s winning Continental Europeans.

Victor Perez scored 3½ points out of the four available against Tommy Fleetwood’s GB & Ireland side and beat Jordan Smith 4&2 in the singles.

That sets up him perfectly for this event, his first strokeplay outing in the region since finishing 12th in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Perez wasn’t playing well enough last year to build upon an opening 66 (he didn’t make the top 50 in any of his first four tournaments of the campaign) but Yas Links should suit.

The Frenchman is a winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and has had plenty of practice at seaside golf having moved to Scotland to live with his Dundee-based girlfriend.

Perez paved the way for victory in that event with a 64 at Kingsbarns while he also won the KLM Open at Bernardus Golf in the Netherlands last season. Both those courses are designed by Kyle Phillips, the man behind Yas Links, so that could prove significant form. 

The final piece of the jigsaw is that Perez has twice finished runner-up in the United Arab Emirates, once in this event at Abu Dhabi GC in 2020 and also in the 2018 Challenge Tour Grand Tour final.

A man who can putt the lights out, back Perez at +3300 each way (1/4 1-2-3-4-5) with bet365.

Power to Outscore Reed

After contesting both the Sentry Tournament of Champions (25th) and Hero Cup, Seamus Power should be in the groove again and I’m going to take him to beat Patrick Reed over 72 holes.

Reed has nailed his colors to LIV golf and lacks a competitive outing since finishing 12th in mid-October’s event in Saudi Arabia. 

The second reason to go with Power is his record on Paspalum grass.

The Irishman’s results include third (2022) and 11th (2021) in the last two editions at Mayakoba along with fifth and seventh at the Corales Puntacana.

And, of course, he grew up playing links golf in Ireland.    

Reed’s record on links tracks is patchy so Power is the bet at -125 with DraftKings Sportsbook.

Take Molinari for a Top 10

Despite the potential exertions of being a playing captain, Francesco Molinari looked totally energized by his week at the Hero Cup.

Not only did he skipper his team to victory, the Italian starred as a player, winning three and halving one of his four matches.

Molinari posted finishes of 9-34-28 in his final three DP World Tour events of 2022 and, as a former Open champion, he can clearly thrive on any links course.

Back him for a top 10 at +360 with DraftKings Sportsbook.

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How to Watch Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

  • Tournament - Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

  • Location - Yas Links, Abu Dhabi, UAE

  • Time - Thursday, January 19 - Sunday, January 23

  • How to Watch - Thursday-Friday 2.30 am-11 am ET (Golf Channel), Saturday-Sunday 2 am-8 pm (Golf Channel). All 4 days on Sky Sports

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Dave Tindall

106 Articles

Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.

Email: [email protected]

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