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Min Woo Lee
For starters, let’s hope this week goes as well as last week on the tipping front.
All three bets landed in Abu Dhabi and that included outright pick Victor Perez winning the tournament at juicy odds of +3300.
It’s a similar cast-list to the one that contested the trophy at Yas Links which makes sense given that this is leg three of a four-week Desert Swing, all the events taking place in the United Arab Emirates.
There is one notable difference at the front of the market however as Rory McIlroy makes his first worldwide start of the calendar year.
This tournament has a special place in Rory’s heart as it was here in 2009 that he won his very first DP World Tour event. The Northern Irishman was just 19 years old.
He returned to win it for a second time in 2015 and in nine appearances starting with that 2009 victory, Rory has never finished outside the top 10.
The four-time Major winner continued that streak with a third place last year so it’s no surprise to see him at just +330 to make it a hat-trick of victories.
This is the longest-running DP World Tour event in the desert having first made its debut in 1989.
The Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club which hosts for the 32nd time is a par 72 measuring 7,428 yards.
The Karl Litten design is mostly flat and features fairly generous fairways but thick rough. Water is in play on 10 holes and the putting greens are Bermuda TifEagle.
Looking at stats down the years, Driving Distance is a bigger weapon than Driving Accuracy but it’s worth noting that the three winners since Strokes Gained stats were introduced in 2020 ranked 2nd, 6th and 9th for SG: Off The Tee
Two of the three winners were also in the top three for SG: Approach so McIlroy’s success here makes sense. Driving it long and straight and hitting crisp irons will take you far in Dubai.
Also note that the last seven editions have been won by players from seven different nationalities, Viktor Hovland becoming the first Norwegian winner last year.
Looking at performances from Abu Dhabi last week, it’s notable how Nicolai Hojgaard fared in two of the big categories we’re looking at here: SG: Off The Tee and SG: Approach.
The Danish youngster is a superb driver of the ball at his best and ranked 2nd for SG: OTT. He backed that up with impressive iron play, ranking 9th for SG: Approach.
Thanks to those numbers, it helped Hojgaard finish top of the SG: Tee To Green rankings.
Some average putting stopped him making more of a challenge but a 10th place finish was still a strong effort and followed up the top 10 at the Australian Open he recorded on his previous start in early December.
Hojgaard has a rather boom-or-bust record in the desert but the good weeks make him an enticing proposition here.
In six starts in the UAE, he’s logged a win (2022 Ras al Khaimah Championship), a fourth and a 10th. In the other three he missed the cut.
But on current form, he looks capable of challenging again if the putter heats up. Back the Danish twin (be careful not to bet his brother, Rasmus!) at +5000 each-way (1/4 1-2-3-4-5) with bet365.
We landed the 72-hole match bet in Abu Dhabi as pick Seamus Power finished a solid 20th while opponent Patrick Reed missed the cut. No stress outcomes like that are always welcome!
Victor Perez did us a big favor last week by winning the tournament but flourishing again straight away could be tough and that’s why I’m going to back Adrian Meronk to get the better of him.
Meronk was a superb winner of the Aussie Open on his final start of 2022 and he opened the new campaign with a 10th place in Abu Dhabi last week.
The Pole now has four top 10s in his last five starts in the UAE and that includes a fourth on his Dubai Desert Classic debut last year.
Perez has never made the top 15 in four starts at Emirates GC and the last two years he missed the cut and finished down in 60th.
In addition, he actually had negative SG: Approach numbers when winning in Abu Dhabi so Meronk is the bet at -120 with bet365.
I liked Jason Scrivener’s numbers last week. The Aussie ranked 26th Off The Tee, 8th on Approach and 10th Tee To Green.
Add in some steady putting and he finished the week in tied seventh.
That made it four straight worldwide top 20s following his second place in the Aussie PGA and T18s at both the Portugal Masters and Australian Open.
As well as current form, he has course form after a pair of top sevens here in 2018 and 2019.
Back him for a top 20 at +330 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
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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]More info on Dave Tindall
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