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Roope Kakko secures qualification for Abu Dhabi

Last-minute entrant, Roope Kakko of Finland, wins tournament qualifier to join stellar line-up at Thursday’s main event

Roope Kakko has secured his qualification for the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, having been crowned winner of the tournament qualifier that was held on Sunday at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Kakko recorded a final score of two-under par to seal victory by one shot and confirm his participation in the prestigious tournament later this week. Taking place 16th – 19th January at the iconic Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Kakko will line up against some of the world’s best golfers including Major champion and World Number one, Brooks Koepka, last year’s winner, Shane Lowry, and two-time winner, Tommy Fleetwood.

This year’s pre-qualifier tournament was played over one round with 39 players battling it out for the opportunity to take part in the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA. Having taken two months off to work on his fitness, Kakko only entered the qualifier at the very last minute and in difficult conditions shot a confident round of 70 to fend off compatriot Linus Vaisanen and England’s Matthew Jordan.

Discussing the unexpected victory, Kakko commented: “I was practising in Dubai last week with the Finnish Olympic team and I got an email and thought ‘Why not? I’ll play’. Conditions were tough today, but they suited me. Hopefully they will continue for the main tournament, although knowing Abu Dhabi that is unlikely. It is a great course. You have to drive well and hit the fairways. The greens are perfect so you can make a lot of putts. If players are doing both well, it can really separate the field.”

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The true test for Kakko is yet to come with a formidable list of players lining up for Thursday’s main event. In a field that includes multiple Major winners and former champions is rising star, Viktor Hovland. The Norwegian starlet enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2019, having previously won the 2018 US Amateur Championship and securing a tied-12th finish at the U.S. Open. Local favourite and former-winner, Martin Kaymer, returns to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club looking to add a fourth win to his collection. Victories in 2008, 2010 and 2011 respectively means the German holds the record for most victories at the tournament, narrowly ahead of two-time champions Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey. Other established names set to descend upon the desert this January include the likes of Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, Masters winner Danny Willett, 24-time European Tour winner Lee Westwood and Ryder Cup captains Padraig Harrington and Thomas Bjorn.

Ahead of the tournament, Suhail Al Areefi, Events Director in Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA is almost upon us and, like all golf fans here and around the world, I’m hugely excited for the world-class action to get underway. The line-up of golfers is once again incredibly strong and reiterates our ambition to deliver premium sporting events all year round. I would personally like to congratulate Roope Kakko on a phenomenal victory at this year’s qualifier and wish him every success this week as he tests his skills against some of the world’s very best golfers.”

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