Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship 2023
Photo by Katerina Kerdi / Unsplash

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship 2023

Preview of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship 2023 edition. Read our analysis, strategy and betting picks for the week.

DP World Tour will start it's season traditionally in the Middle East. As a part of the Rolex Series with a higher prize pool, this year's competition has once again gathered a quality field. Among the early favorites there are several established stars who played in the Hero Cup last week (a team competition between players from continental Europe and the Great Britain played last week). Player's "links suitability" is clearly visible in the betting market, as all the players with the lowest odds have a history of winning in the traditional links courses and/or on courses designed by Kyle Phillips.

This weeks playing arena is one of the most entertaining ones on the tour and it was well received by players last year. The links-style course Yas Links is situated on the strip between the desert and the sea and it was designed by the famous architect Kyle Phillips.

Former major winner Grame McDowell compared Phillips' creation to the legendary Kingsbarns (a links course in the British Isles) and last year Yas Links, with its strong winds, offered a real challenge. The winner was Thomas Pieters with a score of -10, and in Friday's strong winds, the scoring average was over 75 strokes (the scoring average of the entire tournament was 72.83).

Artificially constructed dunes create challenges for players with their sloping surfaces and many blind tee shots and approaches. Bunkers are in strategically challenging places and on many fairways the player has to choose either side of the wide fairway because there is a fairway bunker in the middle. Water is also in play on several holes. Last year's pre-tournament favorite Tyrrell Hatton's tournament, for example, crumbled to numerous penalty strokes on the last hole after he hit several balls into the Persian Gulf.

The betting card & reasoning

It's the first competition with a larger field in more than a month and several top players haven't played competitions for 2-3 months so a lot of variation in the results can be expected. In the analysis, we rely on the so-called to the base level (player's baseline and course history/fit), emphasizing the player's history in tournaments played on Kyle Phillips courses and links courses. Good ball hitters stand out on challenging courses and this was seen last year, when the "T2G strokes gained" statistic (tee-to-green), which emphasizes hitting in the competition, separated the top 10 ranked players from the others. In addition the large slopy greens with demanding bunkers and runaways highlight players ability to scramble.

According to the weather forecast, winds like last year's are not expected, but at least on Thursday the wind will be approx. 7 m/s, which already has a significant effect on club selection on a course exposed to wind. According to the forecast at the moment, Thursday afternoon starters (ie Friday morning starters) will get a one stroke advantage in relation to the player on the other side of the field (Thursday morning and Friday afternoon).

This week's card is built with the criteria that the odds of the player must contain at least 40% EV in model generated odds.

It's a wild card, but these have treated us well in the last few months. No strategy plays since it's only 2nd year in the course and the weather forecast is totally different this time around.

For the lazy ones, here's the picture of the same bets - bankroll of 350 units so only risking about 12% because of randomness of the first proper week.

The wild card aka spray & pray. Lot's of value in market odds though.

Good luck and enjoy this fantastic tournament!