Some of golf’s star names are out in force for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship – the first of the Rolex Series events of the 2021 European Tour season. Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas are vying for favouritism at the head of the market, but are there value alternatives further down the betting?

McIlroy or Thomas could easily streak to success

As mentioned, McIlroy and Thomas head the betting this week, and as the two highest ranked players in the world, it’s not hard to see why. The Northern Irishman (11/2) has a quite frankly ridiculous record in Abu Dhabi and in all honesty it’s a bit of a mystery how he hasn’t won the tournament yet. In 10 starts, he finished in the top-10 on eight occasions, finishing third three times and runner-up four times. As such, it’s unsurprising he’s just 13/10 to finish in the top-five this time around.

Unlike Rory, Thomas has no course form with this being his first trip to Abu Dhabi, but given Americans have often performed well here, it’s not hard to see him warming to the task. He played pretty well at the Sentry Tournament of Champions a couple of weeks ago and that will have given him plenty of confidence, although he’ll need to drive it better here. He’s also had to deal with the loss of a leading sponsor in the aftermath and that might prove too big a distraction. He’s available to back at 13/2.

Wiesberger a tantalising proposition

Tyrrell Hatton is strongly considered at 12/1 and is perhaps the most likely winner at the head of the market, although he did miss the cut here in 2019. Instead, though, it’s BERND WIESBERGER who gets the headline pick at 35/1.

If the weather forecasters are to be believed, then those with early tee times on Thursday are at a significant advantage with the wind expected to get up considerably on Thursday afternoon. Wiesberger goes off in the morning wave in round one and he looks a likely player given his solid record in the desert. Although yet to win in the desert, the Austrian has a string of good results in the area, with three top-15 finishes here and two top-10s at the Dubai Desert Classic.

He was playing well at the back of 2020 too, with a tie for fourth at the RSM Classic and then a tie for eighth at the Golf in Dubai Championship – another strong showing on a desert layout. He’s won nine times on the European Tour and don’t forget he won three times in 2019, so this is a player that knows how to get it done. The majority of his wins have come at tournaments where the scoring is low and although the wind might make the scoring tougher this year, you’d still expect the winning total to be double digits under par.

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