50/1 Nicolai Hojgaard is tournament sharp after a fine display in the Hero Cup
A refreshed Ryan Fox can fly from the blocks and land another FRL punt at 40/1
66/1 Oliver Bekker played well in December and has form in the region
Weather forecast for Thursday: The first round should be the most challenging in terms of wind and it could blow 15-20mph for the first few hours of the golfing day. It falls gradually to maybe 12-15mph but that's not a huge advantage for the afternoon wave even though they're slightly preferred. I'll pick one early starter and two late.
Hojgaard can ride momentum
Nicolai Hojgaard was part of the winning Continental Europe side in last week's Hero Cup team event at Abu Dhabi GC and is worth a punt at 50/1 to make a flying start here at nearby Yas Links.
The Danish youngster teamed up with skipper Francesco Molinari to win twice on Saturday and followed that with a singles victory over Seamus Power, the current No.1 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Hojgaard kept the engine running late in 2022 with two starts Down Under and fuelled a top 10 in December's Australian Open with an opening 67 that put him third after 18 holes.
He's previously made fast starts here in the UAE at both the DP World Tour Championship and Ras al Khaimah Championship which he won last February.
With confidence high, Hojgaard can go low on day one from his 12.15pm tee-time.
Fox to start fast again
Ryan Fox was the first-round leader at the other Ras al Khaimah event, the Classic, in February.
He went pillar-to-post there and that was one of four 18-hole leads he managed on the DP World Tour last season.
The Kiwi also topped the Thursday leaderboard at the British Masters, the Irish Open and the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
This week's course is designed by Kyle Phillips and Fox finished runner-up on another of the American's layouts when only denied by a freakish putting performance from Victor Perez in last May's Dutch Open at Bernardus Golf.
After a much-needed rest, Fox can burst out of the traps on a course which should really suit him.
Take the 40/1 on the 11.45am starter.
Bekker to serve up low one
Oliver Bekker ended 2022 on a positive note by finishing fourth in December's Alfred Dunhill Championship on home soil and seventh at the following week's Mauritius Open.
In the latter - another event by the ocean - he started out with a 64 to lie second after 18 holes.
Bekker was the first-round leader at May's Catalunya Championship and December 2021's South African Open while he made the top 10 in both Ras al Khaimah events in 2022 to show he can perform well in the United Arab Emirates.
The World No.104 is worth a bet at 66/1 make his mark on day one from a morning tee-time of 8.30am.