Paul Williams's tips for the 2010 Abu Dhabi Championship
We move to the Abu Dhabi this week with 8 of the top 15 in the world gracing us with their presence. The wide, sweeping fairways may appear generous, however the rough has been thickened and the greens toughened since last year.
Of the 3 previous winners, 2 are playing this week: Defending champion and 2007 winner Paul Casey and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer. Inaugural winner Chris Di Marco is the only non-attendee.
Here's my tips for this week:
Paul Casey 2 points EW @ 16-1 Bet 365. RESULT: T27
After successfully picking Charl Schwartzel in both of the last 2 tournaments, I'm going to give the predictor my undivided attention this week. And who can argue with top pick Paul Casey? Casey is back fit and healthy following his lengthy lay-off last season and no doubt raring to go in Ryder Cup year. Casey's stake for this tournament is huge: Twice a winner here in 2009 and 2007, Casey's game suits this course perfectly with distance complemented by high GIR and birdie conversion.
The only reason for caution with the world number 8 is potential rustiness, however reports from the range are positive and Casey can hit the ground running in my view. You won't get 18-1 about Paul Casey that often, well worth the investment this week.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello 2pts Top 10 @ 15-1 Stan James. RESULT: T43
There's a not-so-tenuous link between players who play well at the Dunhill Links championship and those who go on to compete well here. One player who caught my eye is Rafael Cabrera-Bello: he finished 4th at the Dunhill Links in 2009 before falling away to T35 earlier this season courtesy of a poor weekend when in contention at halfway. Signs of his game getting back on track at the South African Open following a first round disastrous 79; he'll come into this with a little bit of positive momentum. A streaky player as his win in Austria last season proved, however with a solid T15 here last year I'm suggesting he can go a little better this season.
Thomas Aiken 4pts Top 10@ 9-1 Extrabet. RESULT: T21
After the disappointment of finishing runner-up to a classy Schwartzel at the Africa Open, I for one wasn't surprised to see Aiken miss the cur last week. Expect him to come back with a vengeance this week - I'm going top 10 for safety (mainly as he's yet to win), however I wouldn't be surprised to see him take a top-5 place. Again, has a perfect game to suit this course and is very capable of competing in this class.
Another player with Alfred Dunhill Links form (T4 2009), Aiken tends to save his best when playing alongside the best - his 8th at The Open and 13th in Dubai to name but 2 examples. This is a truly fantastic price and one which I'm grabbing with both hands!
All odds and bookmaker offer correct at 21:30GMT 19.1.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.