The European Tour returns and so do the Betfair golf team with this week's plays for the high-class Abu Dhabi Championship which features a rare Wednesday start...
"Despite such a fantastic 2018, Wallace’s career could still be on an upward trajectory and I’m more than happy to take a chance at an industry-wide best of 40/1."
EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 6 Places
Dave Tindall: Back Alexander Bjork @ 90/1
Alexander Bjork has enjoyed his trips to the United Arab Emirates since breaking onto the European Tour a couple of seasons ago. He's teed it up five times and finished tied 17th or better on four occasions with a best of tied sixth in last year's Dubai Desert Classic. The good run started with a tied 13th in this event when he fired 69-72-67-70 and even though he missed the cut last year after a wobbly Friday the Swede had shot a 69 on day one. The 28-year-old has added to his desert form in the Qatar Masters, shooting six rounds in the 60s for finishes of T19 and T28 at Doha GC.
Bjork suffered a dip last summer but really got going again in the last couple of months of the campaign, taking second place at the British Masters, T28 at the HSBC Champions, T14 at the Turkish Airlines Open and T12 on his last visit to the desert in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship (closed 65-70-70). He's certainly a value price to get in the mix again.
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Marcus Kinhult @ 125/1
Contending in this event is largely restricted to the cream of the crop - all of whom are predictably short in the betting and in value terms. Instead, I'm going for a youngster I believe will at least get close to that standard, eventually. On last season's excellent rookie campaign, it may be sooner rather than later that Marcus Kinhult 'emerges' as a really top prospect and I'm confident he'll win somewhere in 2019. Notably, the 22 year-old Swede saved his best stuff for elite events. He first caught attention when third in the Qatar Masters - his first ever Gulf Swing event - then challenged throughout when earning another top-five in the Open de France. In between he played really well to finish 12th after a poor start at Wentworth. Keep him onside.
Steve Rawlings: Back Matt Wallace @ 40/1
Matt Wallace was only 32nd on debut here 12 months ago but his second placed finish behind Danny Willett at the DP World Tour Championship in November highlights his ability to play desert golf. The prolific Englishman won three times last year and he'll be itching to get back out there after a month off. Despite such a fantastic 2018, Wallace's career could still be on an upward trajectory and I'm more than happy to take a chance at an industry-wide best of 40/1.
Joe Dyer: Back Joost Luiten @ 80/1
Holland's finest suffered an injury-hit season in 2018 but a busy November saw four tournament appearances and 16 competitive rounds played to suggest Luiten is back, fit and ready to win again.
Happily for Joost, 2019 on the European Tour begins in the desert where he often plays his best stuff and on a course where he has delivered three top 10 finishes between 2013 and 2016. A winner in the Middle East, at last year's Oman Open, the 80/1 is more than acceptable with my man sounding a very positive note on social media.
Mike Norman: Back Tyrell Hatton @ 22/1
England's Tyrell Hatton has shown himself to be a fine desert golf exponent and while his record in next week's Dubai Desert Classic is slightly better than Abu Dhabi he still looks worth a punt in this event. Hatton's powerful yet accurate long game and sweet touch on the greens looks made for this week's test and his ability to handle any wind is also in his favour. His best result on the course is sixth back in 2015 but a runner-up at the DP World Tour Championship and two thirds at the Dubai Desert Classic show he can perform in the Middle East.
2019 Season P/L to date: -£165.00
- Mauritius Open, Justin Harding @ 30/1 - PLACE (Dave)
*2018 P/L: +£727.16
*2017 P/L: -£306.84
*2016 P/L: +£267.58
*2015 P/L: +£958.37
*2014 P/L: +£251.75