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Refreshed Fisher to break Abu Dhabi duck

Refreshed Fisher to break Abu Dhabi duck

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The European Tour returns after nearly a month off over the festive period and Englishman Ross Fisher looks primed to strike in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which gets underway early on Wednesday morning.

A star-studded field will be teeing it up in the United Arab Emirates this week and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood will be aiming to create history by becoming the first player to win the tournament three times in a row.

US pair Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who are world numbers one and two respectively, will also be present alongside three-time European Tour winner Tyrrell Hatton, who is 21/1 to land all the spoils.

However, experienced Englishman Fisher looks a very tempting price heading into the event and he could have enough to clinch his first-ever title in Abu Dhabi.

Fisher – Winner @ 50/1

Fisher may not be one of the highest-ranked golfers this week, with the Berkshire-born star standing at a modest 78th, but he has plenty of experience as he prepares to start his 16th year as a professional.

The 38-year-old has not won since triumphing at the 2014 Tshwane Open but he produced some decent performances on the European circuit last season, racking up two top-five finishes and a further two top-10’s.

He came close to landing the Abu Dhabi title 12 months ago when finishing second – two shots behind Fleetwood – and the Englishman will be confident of going one better this time around.

Fisher was first in driving distance last season – averaging 326.5 yards – whilst he was 19th in Greens in Regulation with 72.4 per cent and these two areas could be crucial in helping him to glory in the UAE.

Another important fact is the five-time European Tour winner arrives refreshed, having last played at the DP World Tour Championship.

Henrik Stenson – Top-five Finish @ 16/5

Another player that has previous at Abu Dhabi Golf Club is Swedish star Stenson and he arrives in good form as he looks to land the trophy for the first time.

The world number 28 lost out to American Chris DiMarco by one stroke when the event was first held back in 2006 before then finishing in a tie for second two years later when German Martin Kaymer triumphed by four shots.

After some disappointing results from 2009 to 2015, the Swede has racked up three top-10 finishes from the last three tournaments and he could go well again.

The 2016 Open champion recorded six top-10 finishes on the European Tour last season and he has started this campaign in decent form, having clinched fourth-place finishes at the Hero World Challenge on the PGA Tour and BNI Indonesian Masters on the Asia circuit.

Stenson is one of the most experienced players in the field this week and his driving accuracy, which was eighth-best in the European statistics last season, could be a huge factor if he can continue to shine with the big stick.

Lee Westwood – Top Englishman @ 17/2

There is a strong contingent of English players in Abu Dhabi this week and Fleetwood is the 49/20 favourite to finish the best out of his fellow countrymen, with Hatton second in the betting at 13/2.

Ian Poulter looks like a tempting outside shot in this market at 14/1 whilst Matt Wallace, who enjoyed an incredible 2018 that almost resulted in a wildcard pick for the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, is a 27/4 chance.

However, the experienced Westwood sticks out at a big 17/2 and he is reinvigorated heading into 2019 after ending a four-year wait for a 24th European Tour title at the 2018 Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The 45-year-old, who also had three top-five finishes last year, is well rested for the event after last being seen teeing it up at the DP World Tour Championship, and some family time over the festive period will have been good for him.

Westwood also came close to landing the spoils at the 2008 Abu Dhabi spectacle when finishing in a share of second alongside Stenson and the English ace will be optimistic about mounting another strong challenge.

The other English players featuring are Tom Lewis, Andy Sullivan, Eddie Pepperell, Jordan Smith, Chris Paisley, Aaron Rai, Andrew Johnston, Sam Horsfield, Robert Rock, Oliver Fisher, Ashley Chesters, Matthew Southgate, Lee Slattery, Richard McEvoy, David Horsey, Paul Waring, Callum Shinkwin, Jack Singh Brar, James Morrison and Steven Brown.

Adrian Otaegui – Winner @ 100/1

As an outside shot for the tournament, Spaniard Otaegui looks a huge price at 100/1 as he searches for his third European Tour title, having landed a trophy in 2017 and 2018.

The 26-year-old finished last season off strongly with a tie for fourth at the DP World Tour Championship – his fifth top-10 finish of the campaign – and he will be eager to keep that momentum going in 2019.

Otaegui has had two uninspiring performances in the last two editions in Abu Dhabi – leaving slight doubts about his chances – but he is certainly a more well-rounded player at this stage of his career and it would be no surprise to see him go well this week.

The world number 67 is pushing hard to get into the top-50 of the world in order to guarantee a debut at the Masters in April and that extra incentive to make the Augusta National spectacle could spur him onto good things.

Otaegui was also ninth in driving accuracy and third in scrambling last season, and these two departments could play a pivotal role in helping him take home the trophy for the first time.

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Enda McElhinney Our racing expert, Enda studies cards in both England and Ireland on a daily basis and knows all the details you need to know when trying to select a winner. He is also a regular football writer and has strong knowledge of the Scottish game, with golf another specialised sport on his CV.