Golf Betting Odds and Predictions: Abu Dhabi Championship
by Alan Matthews - 1/19/2011
It’s certainly not often that we preview a European Tour golf tournament here at Doc’s, but this week’s Abu Dhabi Championship deserves its own look. Most true golf fans and bettors would argue that this tournament is the true start of the new golf year, even though the Euro Tour has officially had four tournaments already (for some reason they start the new “season” in December across the pond) and the PGA Tour’s third event teed off on Wednesday.
Lured by appearance fees and being treated almost like royalty, seven of the world’s Top 12 players are in this field; none of the Top 12 are in the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic. World No. 1 Lee Westwood begins his season here and all four major winners from last year are playing: Masters winner Phil Mickelson leads the American contingent, joined by U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer of Germany. Even without Tiger Woods in the field (he and Lefty make their PGA Tour 2011 debuts next week at Torrey Pines), this will probably be the best field at any tournament until the WGC-Match Play.
Westwood and Kaymer are the 8/1 co-favorites on Bodog this week, but really there’s little doubt that Kaymer is the man to beat. Last year he birdied the final hole to edge Ian Poulter by a shot and win his second Abu Dhabi title in three years; the other year he finished second. Kaymer shot a final-round 66 for a 21-under total in 2010. Westwood is the world No. 1 but Kaymer is currently the European No. 1. And for what it’s worth, Kaymer also won the pro-am at this tournament on Wednesday.
Westwood has been the No. 1 player for about three months, but has played just three events since then. The last time he played, six weeks ago, he was an eight-stroke winner of the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa. However, at this tournament last year Westwood missed the cut – just his second missed cut in his past 20 events. It seems like Westwood might be a bit rusty this week. He can’t be supplanted as the world No. 1 this week no matter what happens.
Mickelson is playing in this tournament for the first time – reportedly thanks to a $1.5 million appearance fee. He hasn’t played since competing in Shanghai in mid-November so Lefty also likely will be rusty. That’s probably why he’s 20/1 to win, according to golf betting odds. Both Lefty and Kaymer could replace Tiger as the world No. 2 with a high enough finish this week.
Rory McIlroy is the third-favorite at 10/1 and he finished third here last year, two shots behind Kaymer.
McDowell (14/1) played in the PGA Tour season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions and finished third, thanks in large part to a final-round 11-under 62 that tied the lowest round of McDowell’s career. Not bad for someone who just changed clubs. Remember, too, that McDowell rallied from four down in December to beat Tiger at the Chevron World Challenge, so he’s on fire.
The best value on the board other than McDowell for my Abu Dhabi Championship predictions is probably Paul Casey at 12/1. He won this tournament in 2007 and 2009, with Kaymer obviously spoiling his repeat bid in ’08 and ’10. Should either Kaymer or Casey win, they would join Ernie Els as the only player to win the same European Tour event in the Middle East three times.
Perhaps the best long-shot bet is Henrik Stenson at 50/1. The Swede finished second in this tournament in 2006 and ’08 and has won twice in the Middle East in his career, although not since 2007.
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