Danny Jakubowski, Director of Instruction at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, explains the key holes to look out for ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
HOLE 5 – Par 4
This is a tough tee shot. You generally play long because it’s into the wind. It’s an awkward tee shot because the wind can blow into left and right. If favours the right to left shape. Again, if you don’t hit the fairway there, the best place to be, realistically, is the right hand fairway. Even that’s probably a good 275-280 yards into the strong wind. Unless the player hits the fairway, it will be a struggle to get close to the pin. The water hazard doesn’t come in to play though. The big thing is if the player is trying to turn the ball over into the wind. If they overcook it, they can really hit it deep into the cabbage. Last year’s winner Shane Lowry was left of left in 2019 and he was very close to being out of bounds. If your in that left hand rough, you’d need an access guide to get out of there. The length of the rough, 180 yards out of a rough into a breeze, makes it difficult to run one up through the gap, and if they do, they’ve definitely got out of jail.
HOLE 6 – Par 4
This is nearly the opposite dilemma to hole 5 where the player can’t really hit a driver because of the water on the left. They’d have to lay it up to about the 200-280 yard mark. If it’s down breeze, which quite often it will be, makes for holding the second shot quite tricky. The wind can be fairly firm, and almost slides from front to back. In terms of club choice on this hole, it all depends on the wind. If it’s going to be calm conditions, I’d go for a 3-wood or driving iron off the tee. That will put you anywhere between 200-170 yards from the flag. The players would generally be hitting anywhere between a 7-iron and 5-iron depending on the wind. The green doesn’t really lend itself to hold the ball, especially if it’s coming off the right hand side because the bunker tends to slow down into the green. You could definitely see players going bogey-bogey on 5 and 6. But if the wind switches the other way around, then it means this hole is definitely going to be a driver and then hitting a long shot into the wind.
HOLE 9 – Par 4
One of the most iconic tee shots in the Emirates, with the player hitting straight towards the clubhouse. If your going to see angry golfers you’ll see it after the tee shot on nine. In the past, that was the start of Martin Kaymer’s demise when Gary Stal won by one-shot in 2015. Kaymer got a poor bounce off the tee shot, ended up in the rockery and then the rest is history. In previous years, a player might use a driving iron and opt for a stinger-type shot. Dustin Johnson did that a couple of times when he was here before. But nine times out of 10 you’ll see the players use a driver.
HOLE 11 – Par 4
11 will have a new tee this year to add another 20-30 yards to the hole. It will force a longer approach or a longer shot off the tee, which might force a driver into the player’s hands. It’s not the narrowest of fairways so it will be interesting to see how this hole plays out.
HOLE 13 – Par 4
13 has ruined many scorecards down through the years, including Phil Mickelson and Kaymer. If you overcook your effort, even fractionally, you can hit the side or edge of the fairway and it will bounce into the thick bushes. If it goes into the thick bushes, number one, you need to find it and, number two, it’s nearly unplayable. Then, you are playing out of the waste area, where you have to hook a shot around the trees or over the trees. If it’s into the breeze then it’s going to make judging this even more difficult. The grass will grow away from the green meaning it’s hard to run the ball up. For me, the club I’d use here would depend on the wind, but the longer hitters will use a 3-wood. It will leave them anywhere between 120-130 yards depending on where the pin is. I’d assume for the most part, there wouldn’t be a skin on the green that they wouldn’t really go for.
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