Three against the field in Abu Dhabi
Some of the best talent that the golf world has to offer is on display in the United Arab Emirates as the fifth renewal of the Abu Dhabi Championship takes place with a close looking market as three currently share favouritism at odds of 12/1.
Rory McIlroy, Geoff Ogilvy and Lee Westwood all arrive here as co-favourites and all warrant respect at the top of the market as McIlroy and Westwood have played well here in the past while Ogilvy has already won this year in the SBS Championship, getting off to a flying start as he did last season.
Vying for favouritism also is 14/1 chance Martin Kaymer who won here in 2008 and came second last year and Paul Casey who at 16/1 comes here having won three of the five renewals of this tournament.
Casey showed signs of being in good nick in the run up to this tournament having finished in a share of tenth in the SBS and this run out could have him edging Kaymer for fitness and precision as this is the German's first big tournament since the Dubai World Championship.
Other big names who warrant a second look are Sergio Garcia who may have dropped to eighth in the world rankings but everyone knows that on his day the Spaniard can win on the biggest stage and he will have his supporters at 20/1 despite having not won for over a year, while Anthony Kim (25/1) and Camilo Villegas (33/1) travel over to have a go at this prize and look good shouts to trouble the large European contingent.
An Englishman worth a back is at nearly double the price of Casey with arguably equal the talent and that is Ian Poulter at 25/1. Poulter plies his trade largely on the PGA Tour nowadays but comes here fired up and ready to play and he has form in Asia having won the Singapore Open and played well in the Hong Kong Open and Dubai World Championship and if he is indeed firing you can be sure he will be up with the leaders come Sunday.
At a bigger price, Anders Hansen is worth a back at 66/1 considering he went off favourite last week this is a huge difference in the odds. Granted the field is better and he did miss the cut in the Joburg Open but this was due to a double bogey on his final hole ruining his chances and two top three finishes before that suggest it was a blip. Add to that the fact the Dane has played well here in his two tries and you have yourself a lively runner at a big price.
Another fancy at an even bigger price is big-hitting Swede Johan Edfors who can be backed at odds of 90/1. Edfors often starts the year well, posting top fives the last two years in his early starts and that included a finish of fifth in this tournament last year. He has not won a big tournament for a while but if on his game is very capable and at a big price could well be in the mix again.
Wouldn't put anyone off backing any of the market leaders as all come here with some sort of claim but this writer is plumping for Poulter to show his class along with Hansen and Edfors for two big priced runners who could give you a cracking end to your January and give us a taste of the exciting golf season to come.
Ian Poulter - 25/1
Anders Hansen - 66/1
Johan Edfors - 90/1