Thu 23-11-2017 11:20 AM
ABU DHABI, 23rd November, 2017 (WAM) -- The award-winning Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, will see defending champion and the 2017 European Tour prize money winner Tommy Fleetwood go head-to-head with World Number One, Dustin Johnson, four-time Major winner, Rory McIlroy and 2016 Open Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist, Henrik Stenson. With three of the world’s top ten, Abu Dhabi will welcome another stunning line-up of the world’s best at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, from the 18th to 21st January.
The headlining pack will be joined by American Ryder Cup star and Olympic Bronze Medallist, Matt Kuchar, making his Middle East debut, and two-time Championship winner Paul Casey who has had a remarkable 2017, with a strong performance at the Masters and the Bridgestone Invitational.
The 2017 Official World Golf Ranking’s end of season list confirmed that the 2017 Championship boasted the 2nd strongest field on the 2017 European Tour season, not including the Majors and World Golf Championships, a list calculated by the number of Top-30 and Top-200 world ranked players competing at every event.
McIlroy said, "I am looking for a strong start in 2018 and Abu Dhabi is the perfect place to open my season’s campaign. Having come really close here on more than one occasion, I will be completely focused on trying to win the coveted Falcon Trophy and getting myself back into the winners’ circle, that would be a real confidence boost to start the New Year."
Johnson commented, "Abu Dhabi is great, it’s a fun course to play and I felt I played really well during my first appearance there, aside from my first day troubles with the putter. I hope to be in contention again this year and hopefully finish one spot better than in 2017. Aside from the Majors and the weeks immediately following my injury, it has been a really good year for me, having won four times. Hopefully Abu Dhabi will serve as the perfect springboard for me in 2018."
Swede Henrik Stenson returns to Abu Dhabi for his 13th consecutive year and will be looking to win a tournament that has so far eluded him. The two-time runner-up said, "I am hoping 2018 will finally be my year. I know the UAE well having lived there for almost 10 years and think the course is magnificent, particularly the 18th hole, Par 5, whose green is surrounded by the grandstand. Having played every year, the inaugural Championship will always live long in the memory having come so close to winning the title."
Double champion in 2007 and 2009 and World No.14 Paul Casey will be looking to build on his strong start to the season and continue his recent fine form in January. "Abu Dhabi is an incredibly special place for me, having won the Championship twice. After a strong start to the season so far, I’m confident heading into the Championship and know what it takes to get the job done. It would be great if I could equal Martin’s record there," he said.
Matt Kuchar has posted a strong 2017 season, almost going all the way on a couple of occasions. Undoubtedly his best performance was his second place at the Open Championship, followed by a tied fourth place at the Masters. He’ll be hoping to go one better at the 2018 championship.
Kuchar commented, "I have heard so many good things about the Championship from my friends on the tour. I am very excited to finally be playing in Abu Dhabi and experience everything it has to offer. Despite there being a lot of emerging talent coming up through the ranks, I am confident that if I can keep up my good form from 2017 I’ll be well-placed come Abu Dhabi in January."
Justin Rose has also announced his attendance at the 2018 Championship. The Brit recently won the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions tournament, so will no doubt be looking to start 2018 in the same vein. "Starting 2018 off in Abu Dhabi is something many of the players on tour look forward to," said Rose. "I’ve had a strong end to 2017 and I’ll be hoping to carry on that momentum as I arrive in the capital once again. It’s a really enjoyable yet testing course which gives us players a challenge each round, and I’m sure I’m not the only one looking to take the Falcon Trophy off Tommy this year," he said.
Aref Al Awani, General-Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which owns The Championship, said, "Today’s announcement continues our tradition for attracting the best names in world golf. Over the past 12 editions, the Championship has welcomed the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Today’s announcement shows our commitment to maintain the calibre of field and we are thrilled to announce the Magnificent Seven," said Al Awani.
David Kotheimer Deputy CEO and COO UAE, HSBC Bank Middle East, added, "We are thrilled by the announcement of such a stellar field for the 2018 edition of The Championship. As we tee off the eighth year of our sponsorship, it is satisfying to reflect on HSBC’s role working alongside the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to cement this event as the jewel in the crown of Middle Eastern golf. The new partnership with EGA is exciting and will only help strengthen the event’s profile further. We have a combined desire to drive the game forward and further inspire a new generation of golfers. This is great news for golf in the region."
The tournament, held at the showpiece Abu Dhabi Golf Club, was recently renamed as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.
The deal means that EGA is now backing both key UAE championships on the early-start Desert Swing, the other being the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. EGA is the only company to sponsor both events.
Abdulla Kalban, Managing Director and CEO of EGA, said, "This is the first time this great Championship will be presented by EGA, and as always the line-up promises a fantastic competition. I expect the 2018 Championship will once again bring together many in the Abu Dhabi community as well as putting a global spotlight on the capital."