Six of the world’s best golfers today predicted how the game of golf could change dramatically over the next ten years including an increase in the speed of play, as the European Tour season kicks into gear at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.
Long established as the jewel in the crown of Middle Eastern golf, the tournament combines a world-class field with a track record for golfing innovation. In the past the tournament has innovated with players seen wearing shorts during their practice rounds, testing new motorised ‘Golf Boards’ to reduce slow play and having music on the range.
At the start of a new decade, with the eyes of the golfing world on how the sport might change over the next ten years, long-time title partner HSBC continued its commitment to exploring innovations that support the growth of golf by bringing together six world-class players to share their ideas about where the sport could and should go over the next decade.
HSBC took world number 1 Brooks Koepka, defending champion Shane Lowry, two-time Abu Dhabi winner Tommy Fleetwood, 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia, five-time PGA Tour winner Bryson DeChambeau and two-time PGA Tour winner Patrick Cantlay to the home of innovation in Abu Dhabi – Masdar City. Standing in front of the Knowledge Centre, the players discussed the changes that could help golf thrive in the long-term.
The players made some striking predictions on topics including the pace of play. According to the six, a round of golf should take no longer than 3hours 20 minutes, with Bryson DeChambeau stating tournament rounds should take 3hours 30 minutes maximum. Five of the players also stated that beyond their own personal success, they believe Rory McIlroy will win more majors this decade than any other player. Only Tommy Fleetwood had a different forecast, believing Tiger Woods would win more majors than anyone else on tour during the next ten years. Their predictions about the sport will be published on HSBC Sport’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
The players were joined by members of HSBC Future Falcons Junior Golf Programme, a HSBC grassroots initiative that has introduced nearly 80,000 children to golf since its launch.
Defending champion Shane Lowry said: “This is a special tournament for me. Last year, this is where my fortunes on the course really turned around. Winning gave me great confidence which stuck with me all the way to success at The Open. We may have been having a bit of fun today, but the field here is incredibly strong, and come the opening round they will all be putting up a huge challenge to make retaining my title as tough as possible. I can’t wait to get started.”
Four-time Major winner Brooks Koepka added: “We all love the game of golf and there are things it can do to improve. It was great to be asked here today to give my perspective on where the sport could and should go over the next decade, and I hope to see some of those predictions start to come true.”
Tommy Fleetwood, two-time Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA winner, said: “Masdar City is a really exciting and innovative place. Many of the ideas around technology and innovation in urban environments are ones that golf would do well to pay attention to, and so this was a really interesting way to start a new golfing decade.”
Bryson DeChambeau, added: “Since I’m already known as ‘The Scientist’, I felt right at home today at Masdar City. The ability to innovate and use science to create new ways of getting around eighteen holes as quickly as possible has always fascinated me, and so it was cool to see this city of the future in Abu Dhabi and to give some predictions on the future of golf.”
Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO UAE & Head of International Markets at HSBC Bank Middle East, said: “We’re in for yet another thrilling week of golf, as we start a new decade with some of the best golfers on the planet competing for the prestigious Falcon Trophy.
“Working alongside our partners – the European Tour and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council – we have always been committed to supporting the growth of golf to ensure that the sport thrives in the long-term. It was wonderful to see some of the best players in the world making their own voices heard in predicting the future of the sport, alongside members of our HSBC Future Falcons Junior Golf programme. It truly represented the present and the future of this sport we love so much.”
H.E Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, added, “With the tee time of the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship presented by EGA only a few days away, we look forward to starting the New Year’s sporting calendar in spectacular fashion. This Championship has always attracted the best golfers since its inception and this year is no different, as we continue our journey to establish Abu Dhabi as a global capital for sports. We believe in the power of golf to bring people together, and so it was fantastic to see Brooks, Shane, Tommy, Sergio, Bryson and Patrick spend time with the HSBC Future Falcons, making predictions about the future of golf over the next 10 years. Alongside HSBC, we are passionate about driving golf’s growth in the UAE, and I am personally very excited to see how the game develops over the course of the decade. I would like to wish this year’s competitors good luck and hope players and fans alike enjoy a truly memorable week.”
First staged in 2006, The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Presented by EGA – taking place from January 16-19 – is being hosted at the iconic Abu Dhabi Golf Club for the 15th consecutive year.