Golf

So-called expert golf tips for this week

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PGA TOUR – THE AMERICAN EXPRESS

Brendan James – Golf Australia Editor

For mine, there are a handful of flushers on Tour who can also boast at being a dead-eye with the putter. SUNGJAE IM is one of those players.

This event is a low scorer’s paradise and the amiable Korean will be right among the lowest of them, especially when you consider he co-leads the 2020-21 PGA Tour in sub-rounds, with 27 red number rounds in his 10 tournament starts. Has played this event twice with T12-T10 finishes, which augers well for this week.

Sportsbet odds: $17.

JIMMY EMANUEL – Golf Australia Deputy Editor

After claiming the ZOZO Championship in late 2020 PATRICK CANTLAY has only made two starts, recording top-20s in both The Masters and the Tournament of Champions, which suggests to me he will be in the mix here once again.

The American shared ninth in his last start here two years ago and is a significantly better putter than at previous times in his career that will help at an event typically full of red numbers.

Sportsbet odds: $13.

RELATED: The American Express preview

Michael Jones – Golf Australia writer

The ever-consistent TONY FINAU hasn’t missed any weekend action since The Northern Trust last August (one MC from his past 14 starts) and finished off 2020 with back-to-back top-10s.

The World No.22 used the Tournament of Champions to shake off the cobwebs – finishing T31 – and shared 14th place here last year. We all know his second PGA Tour title is well overdue.

Sportsbet odds: $19.

Rod Morri – Golf Australia magazine contributor and The Thing About Golf podcast host

I picked CAMERON DAVIS as ‘the player to watch’ in 2021and after a decent outing in Hawaii last week it won’t be a surprise if he bobs up on the leaderboard at PGA West.

He’s played this event twice and finished middle of the pack both times which means he is comfortable with the course. One less than stellar round in each of those two appearances proved the difference between top-10 and top-30 but his consistency last week in shooting 68-66-67-66 bodes well for this week.

Sportsbet odds: $71.

EURO TOUR – ABU DHABI HSBC CHAMPIONSHIP

Brendan James – Golf Australia Editor

The stars are gathering in the desert and the man who will shine brightest is RORY MCILROY. He racked the clubs after finishing T5 at the Masters in November, so he is a week or two behind some in getting rid of the tournament rust but this is McIlroy –a four-time major champion and winner of 28 events worldwide.

The World No.6 has an incredible record in this event, despite never lifting the trophy. He last played here in 2018 when he finished T3 – his sixth top-3 result in eight previous starts. I reckon he breaks the hoodoo this week to set up a surge back toward the top of the world ranking.

Sportsbet odds: $6.50.

JIMMY EMANUEL – Golf Australia Deputy Editor

World No.6 RORY MCILROY arrives here with plenty of rest under his belt and a chance to work on his game having made his last start at November’s Masters, where he finished T5.

McIlroy has enjoyed plenty of success in the Middle East in the past and despite his form being a slight mystery, I have a feeling Rory is in for a big year in 2021 and it starts with a high finish in Abu Dhabi.

Sportsbet odds: $6.50.

RELATED: HSBC Championship preview

Michael Jones – Golf Australia writer

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK shared second place here last year and was T3rd in 2018. The Englishman closed out 2020 with his sixth European Tour title – winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai – and will be filled with confidence.

I reckon this week will mark the first of multiple Fitzpatrick victories in 2021.

Sportsbet odds: $13.

Rod Morri – Golf Australia magazine contributor and The Thing About Golf podcast host

There have been signs of life in MARTIN KAYMER’s game these past 12 months and there would be no more fitting place for him to rediscover the magic than Abu Dhabi this week.

A three time winner of the tournament, it is also – ironically – the scene of his most stunning collapse. In 2015 Kaymer held a 10 shot lead with 13 holes to play but ultimately finished third behind Gary Stal.

The two time major winner is one of the game’s good guys and is easy to cheer for. But back in his comfort zone this week he is also a good bet.

Sportsbet odds: $29.

LPGA TOUR – DIAMOND RESORTS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

Brendan James – Golf Australia Editor

What a Cinderella story it would be for Women’s British Open champion SOPHIA POPOV to win the LPGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions event as a non-member of that Tour.

Her form after winning at Royal Troon last August was solid without yielding anything better than a T15 at the Pelican Women’s Championship. But I expect she’ll be keen to kick 2021 off with a finish nearer the top of the leaderboard.

TAB odds: $31.

JIMMY EMANUEL – Golf Australia Deputy Editor

Despite solid play throughout last year, NELLY KORDA will have been slightly disappointed to miss out on a win in 2020 and will be keen to make amends and poses a big threat at this limited field event.

Form is a mystery for all the players teeing it up, but as a Florida local Korda should be comfortable with the conditions and has recorded a 10th and 3rd in her previous two starts at this event.

TAB odds: $8.

RELATED: Tournament of Champions preview

Michael Jones – Golf Australia writer

World No.6 BROOKE HENDERSON finished T4 here last year and averages just 68.5 shots per round at Tranquilo.

She should be right in this with four rounds of 68/69 as she hunts for her first Tour title since June, 2019.

Sportsbet odds: $6.

Rod Morri – Golf Australia magazine contributor and The Thing About Golf podcast host

It was a long time coming but MEL REID’s breakthrough LPGA win in 2020 was seen by most as likely the first of many and after announcing her engagement at the back end of last year there might be no better time to add to the tally than the first event of 2021.

Reid is – rightly – one of the most popular players in the game but her on course record doesn’t accurately reflect her talent. With the goal of making both the Olympic and Solheim Cup teams later this year she will be highly motivated and dangerous this week.

Sportsbet odds: $29.

PGA TOUR OF AUSTRALASIA – GIPPSLAND SUPER 6

Brendan James – Golf Australia Editor

The Super 6 format makes it difficult to pick a winner but I think BRADY WATT will be one player who will go deep into the match play knockout for the top-24 players on the final day.

The Victorian has been keeping the competitive juices flowing by playing pro-ams around the state and was a winner at Keysborough earlier this week and finished T5 in a Blitz Golf event at Curlewis GC recently.

Sportsbet odds: $51.

JIMMY EMANUEL – Golf Australia Deputy Editor

MARCUS FRASER showed in 2019 he enjoys the Yallourn Golf Club layout and the match play section should suit the Melbourne-based former Olympian if he can navigate the first three rounds of stroke play.

Fraser is a magnificent putter and extremely consistent ball striker when he is on, making him an extremely frustrating opponent, who also holds a wealth of experience in tournament golf around the world.

Sportsbet odds: $19.

RELATED: Gippsland Super 6 preview

Michael Jones – Golf Australia writer

MAVERICK ANTCLIFF impressed during the inaugural event at Yallourn back in 2019, claiming his share of sixth place. The Queenslander then took to the China Tour – where he claimed three victories from his first five starts – before playing his way onto the European Tour.

Antcliff, now 27, returns to Gippsland a stronger player and should be right amongst it this week.

Sportsbet odds: $17.

Rod Morri – Golf Australia magazine contributor and The Thing About Golf podcast host

Six hole medal match play introduces an undeniable element of chance into the final day’s play of the Super 6 concept however, the 54 holes of stroke play to qualify for the top 24 generally sorts the best from the rest. While the flukey nature of the six hole matches makes it difficult to pick a winner the key is to make sure your player gets to the final day and with that in mind ANTHONY QUAYLE will have my money in Gippsland.

His win at the Queensland Open just before the COVID-19 lockdown was impressive and after two years honing his craft in Japan, Quayle is a genuine rising star of the Australian game.

Sportsbet odds: $19.


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