Expert Picks: Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson highlight the stars playing in Abu Dhabi this week.
The best golf tournament this week isn't on the PGA Tour. Sure, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, and Webb Simpson will tee it up at the Humana Challenge in California but the real star power this week can be found on the European Tour in Abu Dhabi.
Here's a little Q&A on what to expect from this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
What is it?
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is the seventh tournament of the 2013-2014 European Tour season but definitely the biggest of the first seven.
Where is it?
Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates. Land of the camels and Tigers.
When is it?
January 16-19, 2014
What is the purse?
Only $2.7 million, why are so many big stars playing?
Phil Mickelson said on Tuesday that this tournament is "such a great place to start the year." I wonder how much his reported $2 million appearance fee factored into that?
Who exactly are these stars anyway?
Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, and Martin Kaymer.
How can I watch it?
Thursday, Jan. 16 - Sunday, Jan. 19 -- 4-8 AM on Golf Channel
All times Eastern
Who are the former champions?
2013 -- Jamie Donaldson
2012 -- Robert Rock
2011 -- Martin Kaymer
2010 -- Martin Kaymer
2009 -- Paul Casey
Tiger Woods has played this tournament the last few years but is skipping this year to instead play the Dubai Desert Classic in early February.
So who are you picking?
I'm glad you asked. Here are my picks for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (I'm 0-2 so far this year on winners, 2-0 on top 10s, and 0-2 on sleepers):
Martin Kaymer (14-1) -- Sure, I'll be the frontrunner who takes the guy who's won three of the last six times at this event. Kaymer finished 2013 strong with top 25s in each of his last six European Tour events including a T8 at the WGC event in China.
He seems like he's fully recovered from his swing changes and poised for his first win since 2011.
Lock for top 10
Rory McIlroy (11-2) -- I'm buying the hype this year. McIlroy finished strong in Australia at the end of 2013 and I'm buying that he's put the messy lawsuits behind him for the most part and is satisfied with his relationship with Caroline Wozniacki.
I'm buying that those things will help propel him to a season more like 2012 and less like 2013. I'm all in on Rory.
Brooks Koepka (80-1) -- Nearly got his first PGA Tour win during the wraparound schedule last fall. Koepka has only missed one cut in European Tour events since the 2013 British Open. He's going to have a huge 2014 as well.
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