The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first European Tour event played in 2021. Since 2019 this has been part of the tour’s Rolex Series of premier events which more than double prize money available from $3 million to $7 million.
This is one of three tournaments on the European Tour which take place in the United Arab Emirates. The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is normally played the week following this event, with the DP World Tour Championship the season ending finale.
Even though the Abu Dhabi Championship was only established in 2006, there has already been three multiple winners. Englishmen Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood both have two victories whilst German golfer Martin Kaymer has three victories having been the winner in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
|Abu Dhabi Golf Club||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||7,600 Yards||$8,000,000|
Abu Dhabi Golf Club is the sole host of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship since it became a part of the European Tour in 2006. A series of changes to the par 72 layout that were made in 2012 means that it is not exactly the same course as that on which Chris DiMarco won the first edition. Those changes mean that it is more of a challenge of accuracy off the tee even for the best drivers in the game but this is still a course which rewards power.
The importance of power is not reserved just for tee shots. The pins can be tucked into some tricky positions on the fast greens so approach play is important. Consequently, players who can hit shorter irons into the par fours should have an advantage over those who are using long irons and even hybrids.
In addition to the distance of the course, it is rather exposed and thus provides a significant defence to par when the winds whip up as they so often do in the desert layout. Players have to be very confident with their ball striking when their caddies are struggling to get a handle on the wind direction.
Abu Dhabi Championship Betting Tips
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is one of the most important European Tour events for several reasons. Most importantly, it marks the start of the new European Tour season, the first event since the season-ending DP World Tour Championship saw Lee Westwood crowned as the Race to Dubai winner. It’s also one of just four Rolex Series events of the season and features an incredibly strong field which is headlined by stars of both the European and PGA Tours.
It takes a very big performance to finish ahead of the calibre of players competing in Abu Dhabi this week. That has been the case for previous renewals of this tournament which is why the list of the last 10 winners includes Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood and defending champion Lee Westwood. It would be no surprise if any one of those three is in contention come Sunday. Add in major winners Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose and multiple European Tour winners Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Matt Wallace and you have the makings of an excellent tournament.
Martin Kaymer - 30/1
The strength of the top five in the betting for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship really cannot be underestimated. Any of Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood or Matthew Fitzpatrick could quite conceivably go on to get their hands on the trophy. However, the bookies are well aware of this. The strength of the field is such that there are several potential winners available at more enticing odds including three-time former champion, Martin Kaymer.
All three of Kaymer’s wins came before the 2012 renovations but his record at the track since those changes remains impressive. A run of results that reads 6-31-3-16-4-27-22-8 is all the more impressive given that he has battled against a serious loss of form in recent years. Fans of the popular German have been enthused by his more recent form which, while still patchy, has seen him go close to his first win since the 2014 US Open.
The most impressive part of Kaymer’s form in recent months is his ball striking. He is an elite level ball striker at his best and he’s touched upon those levels several times over the last year. Anything approaching his best in a tournament that he loves could well see Kaymer provide a popular win at 30/1.
Bernd Wiesberger - 35/1
You’ll often hear elite level sportspeople talk about using setbacks as fuel for the fire. Bernd Wiesberger knows all about that having missed out on a spot in the 2018 Ryder Cup due to a wrist injury. Rather than moping about his bad luck, Wiesberger did some TV work at Le Golf National and resolved to ensure that he returned to full fitness as a better golfer.
A trio of wins in 2019 was a testament to Wiesberger’s fortitude and the hard work that he put into his game post wrist injury. Although the Austrian didn’t win in any of his 18 events in 2020, he remains on an upward trajectory and the world number 41 can do his chances of finally playing in the Ryder Cup the power of good with a challenge for the title at Abu Dhabi so an each way bet is in order at odds of 35/1.
Lee Westwood - 35/1
For all that the list of previous winners of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship includes some of the biggest stars of the European Tour, this is a tournament that continues to throw up the odd surprise. Lee Westwood was a 90/1 shot at the start of last year’s edition before going on to win and while the newly minted Race to Dubai champion is nowhere near that price this time around, he very much deserves to be in the conversation about possible tournament winners at a decent price of 35/1.
If you were building a perfect winner of this event you wouldn’t stray too far away from Westwood. He is one of the best drivers of the ball in the history of golf, is excellent with his irons and wedges and has ample power. A Westwood win would not be a surprise this time around and he has every chance of contending again.
Abu Dhabi Championship Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2020||Lee Westwood||-19||2 Strokes|
|2019||Shane Lowry||-18||1 Stroke|
|2018||Tommy Fleetwood||-22||2 Strokes|
|2017||Tommy Fleetwood||-17||1 Stroke|
|2016||Rickie Fowler||-16||1 Stroke|
|2015||Gary Stal||-19||1 Stroke|
|2014||Pablo Larrazabal||-14||1 Stroke|
|2013||Jamie Donaldson||-14||1 Stroke|
|2012||Robert Rock||-13||1 Stroke|
|2011||Martin Kaymer||-24||8 Strokes|
About Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Compared to the Dubai Desert Classic, which was the first European Tour event held in the Arabian Peninsula, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship can be considered something of a slow starter. The tournament’s first edition took place in 2006, 17 years after that ground-breaking event in Dubai.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship has certainly made up for any lost time though. Not only is it one of the most important golf tournaments in this part of the world, but it is one of the most prestigious events on the entire European Tour.
That prestige went up a notch in 2019 when it was included in the Rolex Series of events which saw the prize fund more than double from $3 million to $7 million and ensure that the field remains incredibly strong, including some of the world’s best golfers.
DiMarco Not a Trend Setter
Like many of the big tournaments taking place in the Middle East, the organisers of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship have never been shy about paying significant appearance fees to tempt over some of the biggest names from the PGA Tour. Several big names have, indeed, played at Abu Dhabi Golf Club including the tournament’s very first winner, Chris DiMarco.
The American is high up on the list of the best players in the history of golf never to have won a major championship and he was a fitting winner of the inaugural edition of a tournament that always wanted to be associated with top echelons of golf. DiMarco, however, did not set a trend for American winners in the desert. Indeed, it would be 10 years until Rickie Fowler became the second American to get his hands on the iconic Falcon Trophy.
Fowler finished ahead of fellow PGA Tour players Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau in 2016 and has subsequently been followed to Abu Dhabi by the likes of Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Brooks Koepka. None of those big names were able to lift the Falcon Trophy and the first 15 editions of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship provided relatively slim pickings for American golfers.
Lowry the Inspiration
The European Tour is a genuinely global tour and only really has a continued run of tournaments in Europe during the summer months. For much of the rest of the season, the European Tour’s golfers travel around the globe and many have a routine of basing themselves in the UAE early in the year.
The tour’s Middle East Swing takes place in January and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is the first of the three events. It is, therefore, a great chance for golfers who hit the ground running to set themselves up for the coming season.
That is exactly what Shane Lowry did in 2019. The Irishman claimed his maiden Rolex Series win in some style at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. His wire-to-wire win (that is he led the tournament at the end of all four rounds) gave Lowry huge confidence that his game was in great shape, confidence he took with him to Royal Portrush where he won the Open Championship.
Lowry is not the only Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner to go on to win a major championship in the same season. Martin Kaymer followed up victory in Abu Dhabi in 2010 with his incredible 11 shot win at the 2010 US PGA Championship. Then there was Tommy Fleetwood who won in both 2018 and 2019 before earning what were his best major championship finishes: fourth and second at the 2018 and 2019 US Open respectively.