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Henrik Stenson
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Playing the Tips

Expert Picks: Abu Dhabi

by Dave Tindall
Updated On: January 15, 2019, 8:32 am ET

Each week, Dave Tindall and Matt Cooper will give their picks for the two main European Tour options – DraftKings and the official season-long 2019 Fantasy Race to Dubai game run by europeantour.com.


The latter is no-salary. Simply select a team of six golfers and nominate a captain whose points are doubled. Points are based on official Race to Dubai points earned by your players.


The DraftKings lineups will be entered into a large-entry Guaranteed Prize Pool. That means we need to take a risk or two, in order to separate ourselves from the field. 

The idea is to provide you a list of names to consider. We would not recommend copying these teams, golfer for golfer. Duplicate teams are no fun and don't help anyone.



Dave Tindall






Louis Oosthuizen ($10,200) – A million cheaper than Koepka and $1.4m less than DJ and capable of beating both on this turf. Stenson at $10.5m is a strong alternative too but I’ll go with Louis to lead me off.

Thomas Pieters ($9,300) – Great history in the desert and can produce big results in elite fields. Real course horse (5-MC-2-4) and clearly coming back to form.


Lee Westwood ($8,700) – New girlfriend on his bag and a spring in his step. Ended victory drought with Nedbank win in November and a former runner-up here.


Alexander Bjork ($7,500) – This looks a bargain price for the rising Swede, who was T13 here on debut in 2017 and T12 at the recent DP World Tour Championship. Four top 17s in last five starts in the UAE.


Ashun Wu ($7,000) – Always underrated. Scored his third European Tour win in September’s KLM Open and solid course form here of 22-16.


Bernd Wiesberger ($7,000) – A gamble after his long lay-off in 2018 but did shake off the rust with three starts in December (made cut in final one) and, on his excellent course form, it’s a false price.


Total salary: $49,700


On the cusp: Eddie Pepperell ($8,100), Dean Burmester ($7,800), Andrea Pavan ($7,500), Kurt Kitayama ($7,400), Andrew Johnston ($7,300), Renato Paratore ($6,900).



2019 Fantasy Race to Dubai – European Tour


Last week: This is week one of the new season-long game. Last year? Disastrous collapse to nearly 9,000th but finished just outside top 3,000 after late rally so have some momentum.


Position: Joint 1st or joint last - depending on your outlook.


Louis Oosthuizen (captain): Has a habit of winning his first start of a calendar year. Scored a bucket list win at his home South African Open last month and, even though it’s old form, has a second and a fifth in his last three starts in Abu Dhabi.


Tommy Fleetwood: Winner here for the last two years. Only reason I’m not playing him as captain is that three-peats are very rare and everyone else will give him the armband.


Matt Wallace: Some players burn bright and fade but with Wallace you get the impression we’re just seeing the first few chapters of his story. Three wins last year and top five at DP World Tour Championship on last start in the UAE.


Thomas Pieters: The big-hitting Belgian wants to be back in big time and this could be a great launch pad. Three top fives here in the last four years and ended 2018 with a trio of top 20s.


Tyrrell Hatton: A definite desert rat. Not outside the top 22 in his last eight starts in the UAE and four top 15s out of five at Abu Dhabi GC. Not finished worse than T29 since The Open.


Henrik Stenson: Owns five top tens here, the latest trio coming in the last three years. Looked to be coming back from injury troubles with some nice finishes at the end of 2018.



Matt Cooper






Henrik Stenson ($10,500) – Six finishes of T8 or better on the track, holds the course record (62) and I like the way he’s talking: Confident that his elbow is good, that his game strong and the long face post-Open win is a long way away.


Tyrrell Hatton ($9,800) – A strong course record of 5-for-5 and four of them were T15. Two years ago he also held the 54-hole lead.


Hao-Tong Li ($9,200) – Overlooking his missed cut on debut because that can happen to anyone. Much prefer the five finishes of T11 or better in his last six starts.


Erik van Rooyen ($7,100) – The South African has managed his career really well over the last two years and it gives hope for the next stage. Debut but his game could easily suit.


Peter Hanson ($6,700) – Obvious concerns about form (however he was T10 four starts ago) but plenty of upside with a man who owns seven finishes of T11 or better in 12 starts (four in the last five).


Jeunghun Wang ($6,700) – Loves playing golf in the Middle East, has won in Qatar, contended in Dubai and ticked off T11-T15 here. Bargain of the week.


Total salary: $50,000


On the cusp: Thomas Detry ($8,600), Joost Luiten ($7,900), Aaron Rai ($7,600), Alexander Bjork ($7,500), Max Kieffer ($6,500), Gaganjeet Bhullar ($6,300)



2019 Fantasy Race to Dubai – European Tour


Last week: Let’s go with last year and a ranking just inside the top 500 – quietly pleased with that.


Position: n/a


Henrik Stenson (captain): Already discussed above, but would add that the T12th at the DP World Tour Championship and T4th at the Indonesia Masters hint at good things around the corner. Really likes the course too.


Tommy FleetwoodThe three-peat might be beyond him (how often does it happen?), but every reason to expect a good showing. And a reminder in the first week of this game that the format almost demands you follow the top guys.


Tyrrell HattonIn addition to the solid course form mentioned above he’s been very consistent, playing 13 full tournaments in a row since mid-summer.


Louis OosthuizenHave some concerns that he really hasn’t won that much outside South Africa for a player of his quality, but he’s enthused by the South African Open win and has been second and fifth in Abu Dhabi.


Thomas PietersThree course top fives and a pair of missed cuts. Let’s hope for the former. I’m expecting a good year from the Belgian and this is a good place to start.


Matt Wallace5-for-5 on the Desert Swing, second in the DP World Tour Championship and had a further boost to his self-confessed princessy tendencies with lots of start-of-the-year interviews.

Dave Tindall
Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.