It's the start of the desert swing this week where we produced Jamie Donaldson and Chris Wood wins last year, added to a few places, and hopefully things will follow suit after a mini turnaround in recent form last week on Nicspicks. Rory McIlroy and former Dubai resident Henrik Stenson (who really wants an Abu Dhabi Championship win) head the betting but it's a German who gets my full attention: (Follow me on Twitter: @Nicspicks for more insight throughout the week)
Nicspicks' Abu Dhabi Championship man to beat: Martin Kaymer
Abu Dhabi Championship market #negatives: Sergio Garcia 10/1; Phil Mickelson 16/1.......
Tipster comp: win a £100 free bet this week with Stanjames
Likely to be tipped / backed: Martin Kaymer 18/1; Paul Casey 45/1; Branden Grace 40/1
The course: Abu Dhabi GC - Par 72, 7,600yds
Key Features: Long, undulating, fast and firm with large greens. Numerous lakes and strategically placed bunkers. Fairways "tighter than average" but rough generally not too penal.
Premium on: Total driving. Distance control. Dealing with fast and firm conditions on and around the greens.
Note: Course is exposed and main challenge can be offered by the wind. Sand storms common.
Abu Dhabi Championship Shortlist (made the final cut)
Tip #1: Martin Kaymer 18/1
Course form: 6-mc-1-1-2-1; current form: 16-19-25-8-13
Key stats: holds the 72 hole tournament low at Abu Dhabi GC (-24). Averaging over 72.5% GIR% the last 4 seasons.
Other: I've seen some of the best golf I've ever seen played here by the German and if ever anyone "owned" a course, this is it.
He said: "It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s National Course, which is almost like a second home for me. I also feel extremely comfortable on the tee and can read the greens well"
Tip #2: Joost Luiten 33/1
Course form: 6-42-23; current form: 3-16-4-18 #simmering
Key stats: 4th in stroke average and 13th in GIR% 2013.
Other: 4th in his last start in this part of the world and he looks like he's about to peak
Tip #3: Paul Casey 45/1
Course form: 23-18-26-1-mc-1; current form: 19-54-12-20-8
Key stats: n/a
Other: #horsesforcourses 3rd round 65 last week from a rusty Casey on a course that probably doesn't suit shows signs of form. Only Kaymer has a better recent winning record on this track and Casey has returned to playing some of the world class golf he used to.
Tip #4: B. Wiesberger 40/50 to 1
Course form: 21-mc; current form: 26-12-34-7 #simmering
Key stats: averaged 300 yds from the tee in 2013
Other: Came back from a poor first round here last year. Has the power game for the course and if he can hole his tiddlers, could be a feature. 50s available but I prefer 6 places.
Tip #5: Max Kieffer 200/1
Course form: n/a; current form: mc-12-16-18
Key stats: n/a
Other: Can go super low and may be inspired by idol and fellow Dusseldorf man Martin #kaymer's success at Abu Dhabi GC. Will no doubt be looking for advice of his compatriot and big things are expected of Kieffer this year.
Best of the rest (from shortlist): J. Donaldson 28/1, B. Grace 40/1. Top 10: Marcel Siem (125), Alex Levy(200)
Finalised staking plan (odds at time of entry to spreadsheet)
EW places 1-6 on the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with Stanjames
1.25u ew Martin Kaymer @ 18/1(Betvic)
1u ew Joost Luiten @ 33/1(Ladbrokes)
0.75u ew B. Wiesberger @ 40/1 (1-6)(Stanjames)
0.75u ew P.Casey @ 45/1 (1-6)(Stanjames)
0.5u ew M. Kieffer FRL @ 150/1(Betfred)/ 1u Top 10 @ 16/1