Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Expect the Unexpected ! - Abu Dhabi & Sony Open 2015

It was nice to start the new year with a winner last week as sole pick, Trevor Fisher Jnr, duly obliged in finishing in the TOP20 @ 3.25. I will be aiming for more TOP10 & TOP20 markets this year as the competition each week gets tougher and tougher on both main tours. We were treated to a lot of drama on both sides of the Atlantic last week where somehow, Charl Schwartzel inexplicably lost his National Open when it seemed the engraver was getting the nod with just 4 holes to play. The former US Masters champion wasn't playing well and couldn't keep the ball in play and eventually found himself in a play-off with Englishman, Andy Sullivan who then pipped the local hero at the first play-off hole with a stunning birdie. In Hawaii, Patrick Reed lived up to his own hype, by catching Jimmy Walker to win his 4th PGA Tour Title in 35 starts !

We are in for some more excitement this week too, as the elite of European golf are joined by Rickie Fowler in Abu Dhabi. Rory is the hot favourite, justifibaly so, having arrived in the UAE looking to complete some "unfinished business" as he's finished 2nd here 3 out of the last 4 seasons. He will face stiff competition, not only from Fowler, but course specialist, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson & Justin Rose just to mention some ! Rory, might be in the mood for sure and he arrived in the Middle East nice and early for this so will be chomping at the bit to kick start 2015 with a bang ! At 4/1 I'll pass, and oddly enough, I'm overlooking the other leading contenders too, despite Kaymer's obvious claims.

Sweden's Robert Karlsson is a huge price this week that I cannot ignore. It's 5 years since he won on the tour, but those last two victories came in Dubai & Qatar and with a return to Titleist for this season, I expect the 46 year old to put in a stellar campaign as he bids to reach the World TOP50 again. Having recovered from his injuries to his eye, Karlsson showed glimpses of that return to form in 2014 and with Henrik Stenson, his compatriot having completed a similar comeback, he can be motivated to follow suit. He produced his best golf playing with Titleist equipment in the past and he has been quite vocal about the new Titleist ProV1x ball that he will be using.Speaking of winning in this area in the past, its worth also noting that he was T6th in Dubai last November and was 8th here in 2014. Whilst his driving and GIR stats last season may be a bit off putting for this week, I'm happy to have some of the 80.00 and 100.00 on Betfair this week for a win but he's also worth a TOP10 punt too.

I noticed a South African has finished in the TOP5 here every year, except for 2008 & 2006, where James Kingston finished T7th and Schwartzel was 8th respectively.It may be an anomaly but with just ten South Africans in the field this year, I couldn't look pass them. With Charl Schwartzel missing out on home turf last week in the manner that he did and with Ernie Els looking like his best days are behind him, I'm drawn towards the likes of George Coetzee, Brendan Grace and Thomas Aiken. Aiken clinching the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit last week might motivate him here this week and his game should suit here but on his past 5 visists he has mustered just 2 TOP20s and 2 MCs. Grace & Coetzee though have decent form with the latter having finished 4-9-6 here the last 3 years!!. Grace has dusted off the cobwebs from Christmas and he could be ready to contend again following his runaway win at Leopard Creek the week before. He was 5th here in 2013 so knows the course and is a much improved player now.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello isn't a prolific winner but he's a consistent player on the right course. He has 2 TOP10s in his locker for Abu Dhabi and arrives in decent nick. Accurate player, he should be up there again this weekend again and his TOP10 in Dubai back in December in this type of company gives some confidence that he can perform again.

Scotland's, Craig Lee, had 5 TOP20s last year from his 28 events but just the solitary TOP10 - here at Abu Dhabi ! He was 17th in 2013 so clearly he too likes this course. He actually led after three rounds last year so perhaps he too has some "unfinished business" to attend to in 2015 and his progressive form the past 4 seasons suggests that the 37 yr old maybe in for a good campaign this year and why not here on a course that he clearly likes?

Staking Plan

.25 pts WIN R.Karlsson @ 90.00 Betfair
.25 pts WIN . G.Coetzee @ 70.00 Betfair
.25 pts WIN B.Grace @ 40.00 Betfair
.25 pts WIN R. Cabrera-Bello @ 55.00 Betfair

2.0 pts TOP 10 B.Grace @ 4.5
2.0 pts TOP10 R.Cabrera-Bello @ 5.5
1.5 pts TOP10 G.Coetzee @ 6.00
1.5 pts TOP10 R.Karlsson @ 6.00
2 pts TOP20 C.Lee @ 7.00

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