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McIlroy, Morikawa Headliners at Abu Dhabi

Top Field Set to Contest HSBC Championship in Desert

It’s a repeat of the Race to Dubai Championship as Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa are tipped to go head-to-head in Abu Dhabi.

They headline the golf betting online markets for this week’s HSBC Championship, which features a red-hot field.

McIlroy Eyes Early Lead in Abu Dhabi
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

Looking to upset the favorites are the likes of Viktor Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry.

McIlroy Starts Strong

Rory McIlroy has never won at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, but the Northern Irishman loves making fast starts.

He has accumulated nine top-five finishes in the United Arab Emirates, so he’s looking for another fast start to the year.

McIlroy hit top gear when winning the CJ Cup in October before finishing just behind Morikawa in the Race to Dubai, which was a tight tussle until the back nine of the final round.

He has been a critic of tournaments backed by Saudi money, but believes players have the right to choose where they play.

“I think we are independent contractors and we should be able to play where we want to play. I think the (PGA) Tour should grant the releases because it’s an Asian Tour event, it has OWGR (points),” McIlroy told BBC.com

“I think the players feel like they’re pawns at the minute in this big global game of golf and we just want to know where we stand.”

We’re hoping it doesn’t distract from McIlroy from playing well in the HSBC Championship. He opened as the +700 favorite with the sportsbook but has since drifted to +750, which isn’t a major concern.

If he drains a few putts, bettors will get a good sight for their money.

Pick: Rory McIlroy +750

More of Morikawa

We can’t get enough of Morikawa and he could have an incredible year.

The two-time major winner plays well beyond his age and he could move into the No. 1 ranking in 2022.

He finished T5 at the Tournament of Champions, won by Australia’s Cam Smith, and he hit his straps with a final-round -11. It was an amazing final round, so he enters Abu Dhabi full of confidence.

It was his fifth consecutive top-10 finish, which includes a second-place finish behind McIlroy in the CJ Cup and a win in the World Tour Championship.

Morikawa is one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour and we love that he’s playing around the world. Playing only on the PGA Tour isn’t good for your game, so beating international fields is a great way to earn experience.

Betting online markets have taken plenty of action for Morikawa, who firmed into favoritism at +700. We’re prepared to back both Morikawa and McIlroy, who could fight out the finish in the final round.

Pick: Collin Morikawa +700

Min Woo Lee at Value

Bettors shouldn’t rule out Min Woo Lee, a recent winner on the European Tour.

The Australian won the 2021 Scottish Open, which is a major lead-up event to the Open Championship.

The 23-year-old is expected to go from strength-to-strength, and with two European Tour and one Australian Tour victory on his record, he’s going in the right direction.

He has yet to play in the Masters, which is on the horizon in April.

“It’s a golf course and you’ve still got to hit your shots, but I’m definitely going to soak it in when I can, because all these courses are going to be pretty new to me, so I’m still going to embrace it,” Lee said.

We think Lee can get his year off to a good start and getting +3500 is worth the risk. Australian golfers are off to a cracking start with Smith winning the Tournament of Champions, so Lee could follow in his footsteps.

Pick: Min Woo Lee +3500

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