Three of the world’s top five and golf’s new elite, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler will headline next January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, along with super Swede Henrik Stenson. Together they’ll cap another all-star cast of the world’s best who’ll be in the UAE capital vying for a share of the US $2.7 million prize purse – the richest on the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing.’
And the excitement is already building for the Arabian debut of Spieth. The 22-year-old Texan phenomenon, who’s now in the vanguard of the game, is sure that with a 2016 start in Abu Dhabi he can maintain a golfing form that has seen him secure back-to-back Major wins, become the world’s number one and Fed-Ex Cup champion.
“I am looking forward to coming to Abu Dhabi, especially after Rickie told me about what a fantastic event it is. I love to travel and see the world and I am excited to not only play in the event but also checking out Abu Dhabi for the first time.”
Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), which owns the Championship, played annually at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to an ever-growing spectator following, believes the appearance of golf’s ‘young guns’ will pull even bigger and more demographically diverse crowds, said His Excellency Aref Al Awani, ADSC’s General Secretary.
“These three young guns are bringing an enormous wave of new excitement to the game – they all have the star ‘IT’ factor. Jordan has already demonstrated his desire to ignite a love of golf and sport among youth – that’s something which really resonates well with us here in Abu Dhabi,” said Al Awani.
“I can envisage a spectator following next year characterised by a very wide breadth of nationalities and age groups. This Championship was recently voted Abu Dhabi’s favourite sporting event so the players can look forward to an enthusiastic welcome.”
Four-time Major winner and world number three Rory McIlroy has his sights focused on winning his first Falcon Trophy, having clinched four runner up slots over the past eight years. The Ulsterman believes starting his season against the world’s best will be the driving force he needs to reclaim the world number one title in 2016.
“Abu Dhabi always brings an outstanding player field, and with Jordan and Rickie competing in January, this will a superb test for me to start off the 2016 season. I’ve come close in Abu Dhabi several times now, so I’ll be 100% ready for January’s challenge.”
Fan favourite and world number five Fowler, who has repeatedly acknowledged the ‘responsibility’ of being a sporting superstar, is likely to also draw a bigger-than-ever following to the National Course fairways and greens. The 26-year-old made his Arabian debut in Abu Dhabi last January and has his eyes set on the ‘Falcon Trophy’, believing a win will put him in good stead for a strong 2016 season.
“The past two years have been pivotal in my career,” said Fowler. “Getting three great Tour wins under my belt this year and coming so close in the four Majors in 2014 has given me confidence. I’m feeling more comfortable with my game than ever, and I’m looking forward to starting with a tough test against some of the big names in Abu Dhabi, which I hope will set me up nicely for the season ahead.”
Stenson, a former UAE resident of 10 years, who has twice been a runner-up in Abu Dhabi, says getting his hands on the one prize that has eluded him in the region will be high among his New Year’s resolutions.
“Abu Dhabi is very close to my heart,” said Stenson. “I’m one of only 14 players to have competed every year in Abu Dhabi since the first event in 2006, and I’ve always enjoyed starting my season there. After two runner-up placings, it’s no secret that I would love to win on the National course. I’m going into my second decade of starting in Abu Dhabi, so it would be something very special for me.”
ADSC has promised a stellar field of the world’s leading players to drive the Championship into its second decade as one of the European Tour’s leading events.
“We’re teeing up an unprecedented player field with fresh talent, some of which has never previously been seen in the region. This, alongside our unrivalled spectator village and activations provided in partnership with our headline sponsor HSBC will raise the bar for Abu Dhabi’s already expansive world-class sporting events calendar.”
Abu Dhabi will be the first step for many of the world’s best in the battle to reach Rio de Janeiro for golf’s eagerly-anticipated return to the Summer Olympic Games in August 2016, where the top four players from their countries will be chosen.
With HSBC continuing its support as the Championship’s title sponsor, organizers have promised to raise the benchmark even further for the 11th edition, running from January 21 – 24 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO of HSBC UAE said, “The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is known for attracting a world class field and in partnership with HSBC has grown into the most prestigious golf event in the region. With the arrival of such players as Spieth, McIlroy, Fowler and Stenson, this trend is set to continue and we are certain the next five years will be just as exciting as the last.
“We are confident that our commitment to this great Championship will drive the game forward and further inspire a new generation of golfers to discover the game in the UAE and the region. It also demonstrates HSBC’s strong commitment to our businesses in the UAE and Abu Dhabi. Importantly by offering even more world-class sporting entertainment for the entire family on and off the fairways we aim to introduce even more people to this wonderful game. It really will be four perfect days out.”
Mercedes Benz has signed on as a new sponsor for the 2016 edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, which will also be supported by returning sponsors St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Rolex, Gulf News, Xerox and Nike Golf. Media partners include CNN, Golf Digest and Dubai Eye.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is presented by ADSC. Tickets and tailored packages will be available from midday tomorrow via the event’s official website www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com at AED50 for a daily pass and AED150 for a four-day pass. Guests staying at any Abu Dhabi hotel over the Championship period enter free.