The first Rolex Series event for 2020 and start of the European Tour’s three tournament Desert Swing, this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship boasts a strong international field.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: 2019 Champion Golfer of the Year Shane Lowry got his year off to a flying start here, defeating South African Richard Sterne by one shot.
COURSE: The National Course 18 holes of Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s 27 holes welcomes the top players once again this week. Providing a test often described as “tough but fair” the desert layout designed Peter Harradine and opened in 1998 features expansive bunkering, lush playing surfaces and the memorable clubhouse shaped like an eagle that sits above the 18th green.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
World No.1 Brooks Koepka makes his first start since October 2019 and since undergoing knee surgery that also saw him pull out of the Presidents Cup in Melbourne. The four-time major winner could be slow to get going after his layoff from competitive golf, but judging by his social media accounts he has been putting in plenty of work on his game and this layout should suit his power and precise ball striking.
The bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau also get his year underway in the desert this week and is certainly one of the players to keep an eye on here. A past winner in the desert, the American has made no secret of his desire to increase his power through a physical transformation, which has allowed him to hit as many as five clubs less into some of the greens in Abu Dhabi during practice rounds this week.
A win has to be close for Louis Oosthuizen. The South African was runner-up in a national open last week for the second time in as many starts, has not missed the top-20 in his last five individual tournaments and has a strong record in this event, finishing fourth last year and runner-up in 2009.
72-HOLE RECORD: Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer ran away with this event in 2011, the German’s 264 total (24-under) delivering victory by eight shots over Rory McIlroy.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No previous Australian winners.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Scott Hend, Lucas Herbert, Zach Murray, Wade Ormsby and Jason Scrivener.
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 506 LIVE 2:30pm – 7:30pm & 10pm-12am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 506 LIVE 6pm – 11:59pm)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 506 LIVE 7:30pm – 12am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 506 LIVE 7:30pm – 12am)
*AEDT, check local guides