The European Tour begins its Middle Eastern swing with the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. It’s the third running of the event and many of the world’s best players will return to the Emirate to battle it out around this excellent Peter Harradine designed layout.
This year’s tournament features, probably, the strongest field ever assembled for the Abu Dhabi Championship. Sergio Garcia heads the cast list with three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington a high-profile understudy. Trevor Immelman’s participation means the winners of three of last year’s four Majors will be competing.
“I’ve done quite nicely in Abu Dhabi, I like the course and I do feel it’s one I’m competitive on.” Said Harrington. “I am focusing hard on my preparation and I think I’ll be ready with my ‘A’ game. This year I’ll be good to go.”
Several improvements have been made to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club for the 2009 event, including a bigger spectator village and enhanced sponsors’ area and car parking.

Betting: Abu Dhabi Golf Championship betting guide
Golf Monthly Forum: Have your say on who you think will win 

Venue: Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi
Date: January 15-18
Course stats: par 72, 7,500 yards
Purse: €1,500,000 Winner: €245,000
Defending champion: Martin Kaymer (-15)

TV coverage:
Thursday 15 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7am
Friday 16 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 7am
Saturday 17 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9am
Sunday 18 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9am

player watch:
Martin Kaymer – The German showed his true class in this tournament last year and will be keen to repeat that performance in 2009.
Sergio Garcia – The World Number Two will be looking for maximum world ranking points to try and close the gap on Tiger Woods
Rory McIlroy – In losing a play-off for the Hong Kong Open, McIlroy underlined his potential once again. The youngster is definitely one to watch in 2009.

Key hole: 18th. Played directly towards the iconic Falcon shaped clubhouse, the final hole is a par five of 557 yards – reachable in two for the longest hitters, it means the tournament could swing at the death.
Skills required: Power hitting. At 7,500 yards the course favours the longer hitters. Kaymer won last year and Casey the year before that – both are renowned for their prodigious ball-striking.