It’s the first Rolex Series event of the year this week on the European Tour. Tommy Fleetwood looks to make it three wins in a row in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Leaderboard, Preview, TV Times
There’s a star-studded line-up for this, the 14th running of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA. The World’s second and third ranked players Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson both start, as does 2017 and 2018 champion Tommy Fleetwood.
As the first Rolex Series event of the year, this tournament has attracted many of the European Tour’s top players. Aside from defending champ Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Henrik Stenson, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Eddie Pepperell and Lee Westwood are all on the start list.
First contested in 2006, this is an event that was dominated by two players in the tournament’s early years – Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey. The Englishman won in 2007 and 2009 while the German has been the champion three times – 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Rickie Fowler triumphed in 2016 and Tommy Fleetwood took the title in both 2017 and 2018. Last year, the Englishman carded a final round 65 to finish two clear of his countryman Ross Fisher.
Now a Rolex Series event, the prize money for this tournament has been significantly increased. There’s now a purse of $7,000,000 making it richer, by over $1 million, than this week’s PGA Tour event at La Quinta.
The tournament is being played from Wednesday to Saturday this year rather than Thursday to Sunday in order to accommodate football’s Asian Cup.
Designed by renowned desert course architect Peter Harradine, the course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club is long and challenging with plenty of water hazards to negotiate. Stretched now to almost 7,600 yards, it’s a venue that suits the power hitters.
The weather forecast is good for the first two days of the event but it could be overcast on Friday and Saturday.
Venue: Abu Dhabi GC, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Date: Jan 17-20
Course stats: par 72, 7,583 yards
Defending champion: Tommy Fleetwood (-22)
How to watch the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA
Wednesday 16 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 3.30am
Thursday 17 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 7am
Friday 18 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 8am
Saturday 19 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 7am
Not a Sky Sports customer and want to watch the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA?
Players to watch:
Thomas Pieters – The Belgian finished in the top-five in this event and comes in on the back of his win with Thomas Detry in the ISPS Handa World Cup last November. Which leads us onto…
Thomas Detry – Same story as his countryman – He played well here last season and finished 2018 on a high.
Matt Wallace – The Englishman has proved himself one of the most steely competitors on the European Tour and he would love to take some big scalps in this early season event.
Key hole: 18th. Played directly towards the iconic Falcon shaped clubhouse, the final hole is a par-5 that’s been extended over the years and now measures 562 yards. It’s still reachable in two for the longest hitters and that means the tournament could swing at the death.