Steve's in-depth previews and outsiders to back
Course info, stats and much more
Steve Rawlings says: "What you do off the tee in this event is largely irrelevant.
"Hudson Swafford ranked 13th for Driving Distance and 37th for Driving Accuracy last year but as a demonstration of how unimportant the driving stats are, the 2020 winner, Andrew Landry, ranked 61st for Driving Distance and when Swafford won the title for the first time in 2017 he ranked the 61st for Driving Accuracy. Landry ranked third for DA and Swafford ranked fifth for DD.
"Swafford ranked 11th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green 12 months ago and he ranked 21st for Greens in Regulation and that pushed the average GIR ranking of the last 14 winners up to 12th. Swafford ranked fifth for Putting Average and second for Strokes Gained Putting.
"This is a tough event to evaluate statistically as it's basically just a birdie-fest and it will undoubtedly boil down to who holes the most putts on Sunday...
"Having backed him before the off prior to each of his last two wins, at the DP World Tour Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions, I couldn't leave out the bang-in-form Jon Rahm and despite the strength of the field and the poor record of fancied runners in the event, I was happy to take 8.0."
Steve's bet: Back Jon Rahm @ 8.07/1
Dave Tindall says: "Tom Hoge certainly fits the bill this week and I'll make him my main pick at 40/1.
"The American was runner-up in this event last year and also sixth in 2020 so clearly enjoys the set-up. He also seems to like the relaxed atmosphere of pro-ams having won at Pebble Beach 12 months ago.
"A fourth at the Shriners in Las Vegas back in October is further evidence that he enjoys desert golf, as does his top 15 in last year's Waste Management Phoenix Open.
"Hoge started the year with a third at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and did nothing particularly wrong when closing with two 67s for tied 41st at the Sony Open."
Dave's bet: Back Tom Hoge each-way @ 41.040/1
Andy Swales says: "The Stadium Course, which made its debut in this event as long ago as 1987, but then wasn't used again for 29 years because the pros were severely critical of it, is the most difficult of the three.
"Tour pros even signed a petition to prevent the course from being used again in 1988, a ban which was finally overturned seven years ago. Opened in 1986, water is a prominent feature of the layout, with sizeable hazards on half of its holes.
"The Nicklaus-designed Tournament Course is the most recent new addition to the tournament rota, joining the fray in 2016. It is described on pgawest.com as being 'a true ball strikers' golf course.'
"But while the Stadium Course and Nicklaus Tournament Course were both designed and opened during the mid-1980s, La Quinta goes back as far as 1959...
"Patrick Cantlay, born and bred in California, usually plays well when he returns 'home' to compete in tournaments staged in western American states - especially in the desert."
Andy's Player to Watch: Patrick Cantlay @ 12.5
Steve Rawlings says: "I'm not sure we give the stats from last year too much credence but for the record, the winner, Thomas Pieters, ranked highly for almost every stat apart from the putting stats.
"He ranked second for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, first for STG Tee to Green, ninth for Greens In Regulation and first for Scrambling so in windy conditions his neat and tidy game paid dividends but he only ranked 59th for Putting Average and 30th Strokes Gained Putting.
"Links form stood up well at the old venue for this event, as well as the Emirates (the course used for next week's Dubai Desert Classic) and at Doha, the Qatar Masters' host course, so look to form in the region as well as links form in the UK.
"Look to the Scottish Open, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and of course, the Open Championship for evidence of links form as what little evidence we have suggests Yas really is a genuine links track...
"I'm not sure we can take anything from the actual results at last week's Hero Cup - it was useful pipe opener to get the competitive juices flowing and nothing more but for the record, Hatton signed off the event with a comfortable 5&4 victory over Antoine Rozner and that can't be viewed as a negative."
Steve's bet: Back Tyrrell Hatton @ 13.5
Matt Cooper says: "Victor Perez was among the top scorers in last week's Hero Cup and he enjoyed the odd fist pump in the process.
"Off the back of that experience he'll be feeling pretty chipper and this week ought to provide him with plenty of opportunity to ride the wave.
"On the one hand, he's always enjoyed the Middle East. He finished second in this event at Abu Dhabi GC, has contended in both the Dubai Desert Classic, Saudi International and DP World Tour Championship.
"Furthermore, his links pedigree was stamped by his breakthrough victory in the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and his third round that week is the beginning of his Kyle Phillips hints.
"A 64 that Saturday at Kingsbarns saw him tie the 54-hole lead and 12 months ago he kicked off his effort in this tournament with a 66 at Yas Links which had him on the first page of the leaderboard."
Matt's bet: Back Victor Perez each-way @ 51.050/1
Dave Tindall says: "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."
Dave's bet: Back Nicolai Hojgaard each-way @ 51.050/1
Steve Rawlings says: "I suspect playing in last week' Hero Cup will prove to be beneficial given so many in the field haven't played since last year and the three-time DP Tour winner, Guido Migliozzi, appeared to enjoy himself at the former host venue - Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
"Migliozzi was woeful here 12 months ago, when he shot rounds of 78 and 79 to miss the cut but he's an in-and-out performer and I'm happy to overlook the poor course debut.
Migliozzi didn't telegraph any of his previous three DP World Tour Championship victories, his three Alps Tour wins, or his second placed finish in the British Masters last year (lost a playoff), so I'm happy to chance him at a triple-figure price and if he misses the cut sobeit."
Steve's bet: Back Guido Migliozzi @ 120.0119/1
Andy Swales says: "The 'Championship Links', as the course is known locally, is located on the west shores of Yas Island. As is typical of venues in desert locations, there are plenty of official, as well as unofficial, sandy hazards dotted around its layout.
"Water comes into play on nine holes, with a number of tee shots needing to be launched over Al Raha Creek.
"Tommy Fleetwood, the skipper of last week's defeated Great Britain and Ireland team in the Hero Cup, usually plays well in this part of the world. Is back inside the world's top 25, having slipped down to No 50 in March of last year."
Andy's Player to Watch: Tommy Fleetwood @ 14.5