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European Tour

DP World Tour: Teams unveiled for Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi

European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald has announced 18 players, including an exciting mix of Ryder Cup stars, Major Champions and the most promising young players in world golf, to make up the Continental Europe and Great Britain and Ireland teams for next year’s Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi from January 13-15.

In consultation with the respective Hero Cup Captains Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, who will both compete as playing Captains, Donald confirmed the teams for next year’s match play contest at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, with one remaining position for each team to be allocated at the conclusion of the DP World Tour calendar year.

Match Play Tournament on the DP World Tour

Donald and Molinari have constructed a strong mix of proven winners with Sweden’s Alex Noren and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters bringing Ryder Cup experience to the Continental Europe ranks one week before the Belgian defends his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title at Yas Links.

Molinari’s team will be completed by a host of exciting young players including Austrian Sepp Straka, who won his maiden PGA TOUR title at The Honda Classic in 2022, three-time DP World Tour winner Rasmus Højgaard, two-time winner Victor Perez and Adrian Meronk, who became the first Polish player to win on the DP World Tour when he claimed the 2022 Horizon Irish Open.

Belgium’s Thomas Detry has also enjoyed a strong start to his rookie PGA TOUR season finishing in the top-12 in three of the five events played – including second place in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship – and has six top-15 finishes on the DP World Tour. He is joined by three-time DP World Tour winner Guido Migliozzi, who claimed the biggest victory of his career in September at the Cazoo Open de France.

The Great Britain and Ireland team, led by two-time Ryder Cup player Fleetwood, boasts 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry and four-time Rolex Series winner Tyrrell Hatton amongst its ranks.

They will be joined by a stream of Ryder Cup hopefuls including Irishman Séamus Power, who has enjoyed a stunning start to the 2023 PGA TOUR season and currently leads the FedEx Cup Standings, and DP World Tour winners Ewen Ferguson, Robert MacIntyre, Callum Shinkwin, Jordan Smith and Matt Wallace.

Luke Donald wants to “combine experience and youthfulness”

Donald, the 2023 European Ryder Cup Captain, said: “Having worked closely with Tommy and Fran on building the two teams, I’m delighted with the mix of players who will be on show at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in January.

“We all thought it was important to combine experience and youthfulness and I think we have found that balance with a mixture of Major Champions and Ryder Cup players, alongside guys who are hoping to secure a spot in Rome next year.”

Prep at the highest level

Molinari, the Continental Europe Captain and 2018 Open Champion, said: “Our team is packed full of exciting players who all have the attributes to excel in a match play contest and I’m excited to lead them into the Hero Cup next year.

“Some of our younger players have already shown incredible maturity in high-pressured situations and proved they can perform in big moments, so giving them the opportunity to compete on this stage alongside the likes of Alex Noren and Thomas Pieters will be really important at the beginning of what could be a big year for them.”

Fleetwood leads the island Europeans

Fleetwood, who combined with Molinari to collect four points from four matches at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France, said: “I am really pleased with the players who will form the Great Britain and Ireland team next year.

“Having the experience of Shane and Tyrrell will be invaluable for the rest of the team in a match play environment but I think we are really strong throughout the team. We have proven winners in some of the biggest DP World Tour events and it will be great to have Séámus with us following his excellent start to the season in America.”

Dr Pawan Munjal, Chairman and CEO, Hero MotoCorp, said: “We are delighted to see the best of emerging talent from Europe together with established Major Champions and Ryder Cup stars at the upcoming Hero Cup in January. It is going to be a fantastic week of top class golf and a keen tussle on the course between these two strong teams.”

2023 Hero Cup Teams

Continental Europe Great Britain & Ireland
Francesco MOLINARI (C) Tommy FLEETWOOD (C)
Thomas DETRY Ewen FERGUSON
Rasmus HØJGAARD Tyrrell HATTON
Adrian MERONK Shane LOWRY
Guido MIGLIOZZI Robert MACINTYRE
Alex NOREN Seamus POWER
Victor PEREZ Callum SHINKWIN
Thomas PIETERS Jordan SMITH
Sepp STRAKA Matt WALLACE
Player TBC Player TBC

(Text: Press release DP World Tour)

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European Tour Fun Panorama

Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland back to school at the DP World Tour

Last weekend was a throwback to school for Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland at the DP World Tour. The two golf stars competed against each other in a quiz. They were not left alone in the face of danger. Two junior golfers supported these two top DP World Tour players, helping them in this “child’s play” quiz.

What colour is a giraffe’s tongue?

The questions in this somewhat different quiz could be thematically classified as general knowledge. But do the golfers really know which is the longest river in the world? Or how many years ago did the dinosaurs become extinct? Good thing Fleetwood and Hovland counted with the two junior golfers Maya and Daniel to help them get through the exam.

The final challenge was not about general knowledge, but rather about something in what the two golfers are experts at, a putting contest. For the points they had previously earned, they had to move ten feet (3 metres) closer to the flag for each point. In this way, a 30-metre putt can be quizzed into a feasible chance of winning for the better team.

Full video of the DP World Tour and HSBC challenge


Categories
European Tour

Morikawa returns in search of more Desert glory

Morikawa’s first time at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Collin Morikawa makes his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship debut at the opening Rolex Series event of the 2022 DP World Tour season this week, the American hoping to begin this campaign as he ended the last – with victory.

The 24-year-old’s maiden Rolex Series win at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai in November meant he became the first American to top the Tour’s Rankings.

As Morikawa returns to the Desert this week, the reigning Open Champion will be hoping to use his experience of links courses to master the coastal Yas Links Abu Dhabi – which hosts the prestigious event for the first time.

Two-time Abu Dhabi HSBC Champion Tommy Fleetwood, meanwhile, is relishing the challenge of a new venue and the Englishman will be hoping to return to winning ways at a tournament he loves, his last victory having come at the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Morikawa is looking forward to the start of the DP World Tour 2022

Collin Morikawa: “Feels great (to be back on the DP World Tour). You know, I’ve been announced for a handful of months now as the Champion Golfer of the Year, but this is the first time someone brought that up of being the reigning Race to Dubai Champion, and there’s a lot of weight that’s on your shoulders right now.

“It’s a great weight to have and I want to come back as strong as ever. I want to start these first two weeks off on a real high note and hopefully come out with a couple trophies.

“There’s a lot that’s been going on, I’d say even since I’ve turned pro. It’s a very unusual two and a half years in professional golf, obviously with covid and a lot of other things in the world. “It’s just embracing being in the present, I think that’s the biggest thing, how do I enjoy the time wherever I am in the world, be with family, friends, whoever it maybe, and it’s just really fun. Just travelling to these place and meeting people.

“It’s a very good golf course. Coming from Kapalua where the fairways are about a hundred yards wide, this looks pretty narrow.”I think the conditions are going to prove tough. We’re going to have a lot of wind this week, a lot of different winds from what we are seeing on Monday and Tuesday compared to what the tournament is going to be. A lot of slopes in these greens, a lot of undulations and a lot of run-offs.”

Two-times champion Tommy Fleetwood: ready for the new venue

Tommy Fleetwood: “It’s going to be a completely different test. I think I’ve played this course once, maybe twice. But being honest, it was a friendly round, I remember very little about it.”The course is a different test. But I think you obviously draw on the fact I’ve had success in the area. First event of the year that it’s been for the last few years, and you never quite know what to expect. I always feel very aware that I haven’t played a tournament for a while and you feel rusty. “I think once you get going and once you get into, you start to pick up things about your game and you feel a lot more in the flow of things. I  just need to draw on all the good experiences I’ve had in this event, and take the next two days to learn about the course and start again.

“It’s got a lot of great players playing. I’ve been saying it for a while, no matter where you play now, the standard of golf now is so high, the margin for error is so small, and no matter where you are you’re not going to get away with playing mediocre, really. You have to turn up and give it some form of your best or highest level to compete with everyone out here. “So there’s not really any sort of easy weeks off time off, if you like. But that’s great. It’s great for the sport and it’s great for this event to have so many great players here, and I’m always excited to come back. I love playing over here. I love golf over here. I love how popular it is.”But I’ve had success here, so there’s a lot of good things going for me and for this week, and I’m just excited to get going.”

Text: DP World Tour

Categories
European Tour

DP World Tour: Global stars gather for new era at 2022 Dubai Desert Classic

World Number Two and reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy are among the world’s best who will join defending champion Paul Casey as a new era begins at Emirates Golf Club from January 27-30.

World Number Six Viktor Hovland became the first Norwegian to play in the Ryder Cup last year. He will make his second appearance at the event, alongside teammates Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Bernd Wiesberger, as well as their Captain, three-time Major winner Pádraig Harrington.

The 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry, who also made his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits, will join Europe’s all-time leading points scorer and fellow Major winner Sergio Garcia in the field, with the Spaniard aiming to lift the famous Dallah trophy for the second time.

Danny Willett is seeking to achieve the same feat, with the Englishman setting the precedent for Garcia by winning at the Emirates Golf Club just months before securing the Green Jacket.

Rory McIlroy at the Dubai Desert Classic (Photo: Getty Images)

Anniversary for Adam Scott

It promises to be a memorable anniversary for another former winner at Augusta National, with the 2013 Masters Tournament champion Adam Scott returning to the event exactly 20 years after his last appearance in 2002. Meanwhile it will be a 13th appearance for the 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell.

Slync.io, the logistics technology provider that is revolutionising the way global supply chains work, is the new title sponsor of the Dubai Desert Classic, an event which boasts a glittering list of former winners.

Amongst those once again teeing it up this month are 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson, victorious European Ryder Cup Captains Thomas Bjørn and Colin Montgomerie, Spanish Ryder Cup stars Rafa Cabrera Bello and Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher – the only player to have lifted the trophy in consecutive seasons. With two-time DP World Tour winners Lucas Herbert and Li Haotong also in the field, 10 of the 13 winners in the past 15 years will appear.

The Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic will also provide a unique opportunity for one up-and-coming star, with Texan Sam Bennett claiming a sponsor exemption as the top-ranked player in the PGA TOUR University Velocity Global Ranking.

Viktor Hovland will make his second appearance. (Photo: Getty Images)

Simon Corkill, Executive Tournament Director, Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic, said: “This year’s Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic has attracted some of the world’s best golfers, and we look forward to welcoming a world-class international field for a truly memorable edition of the event. With free entry for spectators this year, a first for the tournament, there is sure to be an incredible atmosphere befitting the elevated status of a Rolex Series event on the DP World Tour.”

The Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic 2022 will be the second of back-to-back Rolex Series events in the Middle East in January, with the tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai also part of the European Tour’s traditional ‘Desert Swing’ which annually attract the sport’s leading players.

Tournament’s 33rd edition

Celebrating its 33rd edition in 2022, the iconic tournament has been won by some of golf’s greatest names, including Major Champions Seve Ballesteros, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazábal, Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau.

The winners’ circle over the past 32 years has also featured Ryder Cup stars such as Mark James, the inaugural champion in 1989. The tournament is now set for an even brighter future with the support of Slync.io.

This year’s event offers plenty to interest spectators both on and off the course. Tournament Town will provide a wide range of family- friendly entertainment in addition to food trucks from some of the city’s popular brands including Shawarma Station, Aballi Arabic Concept, Wok Boyz, Koshari, Choma BBQ, Burro Blanco and more.

Other initiatives include ‘Pink Saturday’, where players, caddies and fans are encouraged to dress in pink to raise awareness about breast cancer in the UAE and beyond, and ‘Sustainability Sunday’, a day dedicated to bringing the tournament’s many green and sustainable initiatives into focus.

(Text: DP World Tour press release)

Categories
European Tour

Defending Champion Hatton joined in Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship field by Fleetwood, Lowry and Westwood

Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton will be joined at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by fellow former winners Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and Lee Westwood as the latest star players set to arrive at Yas Island for the opening Rolex Series event of the 2022 DP World Tour season, from January 20-23.

The quartet will be joined at Yas Links Abu Dhabi by their Ryder Cup team-mates Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter and Bernd Wiesberger and their 2020 Captain Pádraig Harrington. Former Masters Champions Adam Scott and Danny Willett also return to the Emirate, with 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson looking to add another victory in the Desert to his impressive resume.

Hatton became just the second player to claim four Rolex Series titles after a flawless performance in Abu Dhabi last year which saw him overturn the overnight lead of four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy to clinch a four-stroke victory.

The World Number 22 will defend the prestigious falcon trophy at Yas Links Abu Dhabi, where Northern Irishman McIlroy will tee off his 2022 season and recently crowned DP World Tour Number One and two-time Major Champion Collin Morikawa will make his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship debut – the duo having already committed to back-to-back events in the UAE.

“Abu Dhabi was a crucial win for me in January,” said Hatton, a two-time Ryder Cup player. “It was my sixth Tour victory, and I was incredibly proud to join such an illustrious list of champions. It was without doubt the perfect start to my 2021 season.

“I’m excited to defend my trophy at Yas Links Abu Dhabi. It’s great to be at a new, world class venue and I know it will be a fantastic week with a stellar field.”

“I always love starting my season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and that is reflected by my results there down the years,” said two-time winner Fleetwood. “It is set to be a great week at Yas Links, which is a great venue worthy of an event of this stature.”

Lowry added: “I’m really looking forward to starting my season in Abu Dhabi once again. I obviously have very fond memories of this event and there is always a great vibe as the year gets underway with great weather, a strong field and a lively atmosphere among the fans.”

“I can’t wait to get to Yas Links as it hosts the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the first time, said two-time Rolex Series winner Westwood. “It’s a course I really enjoy and hopefully that, along with the memories of my win in Abu Dhabi in 2020, can help me put in a strong performance and put myself in contention come Sunday.”

Scott, the 2013 Masters Tournament champion, has also confirmed his return to Abu Dhabi, making his first appearance at the tournament since 2008. The 41-year-old will tee it up in the 17th edition of the event as it moves to one of the world’s fastest growing leisure and entertainment destinations in Abu Dhabi.

The former World Number One is an 11-time Tour winner having claimed several titles in the Middle East and most recently securing the Australia PGA Championship, but his greatest victory so far came nine years ago at Augusta National. He birdied the 72nd hole to force a play-off with 2009 champion Angel Cabrera before birdieing the second extra hole to become the first Australian to wear the coveted Green Jacket.

His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome back our defending champion Tyrrell Hatton, along with our most recent tournament winners Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and Lee Westwood to the 17th edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“As we move our distinguished Championship to Yas Island for the first time, we are looking forward to showcasing the magnificent Yas Links golf course, the incredible facilities on offer for players and spectators alike, plus the stellar field of world class golfers kicking off an exciting year of sport in the UAE.”

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Highlights Tours

Tommy Fleetwood: “Being part of Team Europe is the ultimate career privilege for me”

Despite the disappointing loss this weekend, Fleetwood shares his thankfulness to be apart of the European team. Fleetwood didn’t bring the same power as before and the official Ryder Cup takeaway was “Fleetwood didn’t have the same magic as he did in Paris three years ago, when he went 4-0 in Team matches alongside Francesco Molinari. He didn’t win a match in three attempts, sitting out both Foursomes sessions before scratching out a tie with Spieth in the finale…” It was a tough one for Fleetwood, but maybe Rome will be a different story.

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PGA Tour

Previewing the PGA BMW Championship with Fleetwood

Q. Just describe how big a tournament this is for English players?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Home crowd, I think Wentworth has always had an amazing atmosphere. It’s Europe’s stand-out event and I think for us being from the U.K., being from England, just another opportunity to have such a home crowd on your side everything and. I’ve always loved playing here and playing in front of crowds and having moments that get the crowd fired up, especially at this time, as well, as things are starting to come back and sporting occasions are getting more and more people it’s exciting to be back playing in front of everyone.

Q. Give us a sense how much the players miss crowds, especially in event?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, you’ve got guys that have just got on TOUR and have played for nearly two years without people and they have had not had some of the amazing experiences that you can have. Sport in general, crowds are such a huge part of it, the ebbs and flows, the riding the wave or having people to pick you up and carry you over the line or push you forward. So managing those tough moments where you know there’s thousands of people that are feeling it with you. I think it is a big part of sport and just extra element, extra motivation, it’s great.

Q. Your 10th start here. What memories do you have?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I was excited, Flagship Event, one of those events that you always watch. I think the list of winners, it’s always been such an amazing field of players, really, and the list of winners is amazing and it’s one of them trophies that you want to be on, and not on, it not been that close, either, but I’ll keep trying.

There’s a lot of events that being a golf fan as a kid and growing up that you always watched and you always sort of soaked up the atmosphere, even on TV, and it’s easy to take it for granted. Like you said, it’s my 10th time playing, so it’s easy for it to become the norm but you must always appreciate the fact that it’s a huge event and enjoy it.

Game still needs to improve. Last week hit a lot of good golf shots. It was great to be up at the right end of the leaderboard and have a chance and be in contention. I hit a couple of wrong shots at the wrong time and didn’t quite get over the line. I think just whether I finish second, first, third, 30th, it didn’t sort of change the things that I need to improve on to get back to where I want to be and push on further. So the game, obviously it’s good. I had a chance of winning. You have to realise how well you did play together but I know there’s still improvements, there’s still things that I can improve in my game and improve my confidence and I’ll still keep doing that.

But I’ll take the confidence last week when I felt at certain times when I hit certain shots and pulled the shots off and the good things that I did do down the stretch and take that into this week. I’m obviously moving in the right direction and keep going better and see where we go.

Q. Do you feel it’s close?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Yeah, a shot here or there and I win last week. You’ve won a Tour event, you’re playing well. You’re doing really, really well. Like I say, look at it on a big scale know there’s things that I want to do better and that I’m working towards but for sure my game is good enough to compete in the events at the moment and I have to, that’s what I have to do. You know, keep working, go out there and hopefully play, perform how I’m practising, take that on to the course and get the results.

It’s there. Game is obviously there. Like if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to be in that position last week. I’ve got to make sure that I keep telling myself that and stay positive whilst keeping improving and there’s never a bad week to play well or turn it on.

And the run of events coming up, just to finish the year is massive with The Ryder Cup in there as well which is obviously a very special week and hopefully keep going and do my bit.

Q. One of the highlights, 2015, fourth hole?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: That was a good shot, back left pin, 7-iron, spun it in the hole. I think it’s amazing to have your little moment in events and I think always do. You always remember like something that you’ve done at an event but something like Wentworth that you see some of the highlights over the years and people show the highlight reels of Top-10 shots or something in the event and I think it’s cool to have one of them and it’s my only ever albatross and it’s a special place to do it. I think having something like that just your little piece of tournament history or something that will be shown all the time is very cool. It’s very special, and something that people always want to talk about which is great.

Interview from Asap Sports

Categories
Highlights Tours

US Masters: UK Player Update Before Round 3

Masters: Justin Rose is in first position at the Masters as we head in to round 3. The Englishman scored a round of even par to finish at -7, only one shot ahead of Will Zalatoris and Brian Harman who are tied for second place. Rose leads by 1 shots after posting 4 birdies on his way to a second round of 72. 

Here’s our quick run down of the UK Players at the Masters 2021 as we go in to round three later today: 

Tommy Fleetwood carded a second round to find himself in T21 position and trailing leader Justin Rose by 7 shots. Fleetwood, currently ranked 24 in the world golf ranking, logged 5 birdies in his second round.

Matthew Fitzpatrick  and Scotsman Robert MacIntyre join Fleetwood in position T21

Tyrrell Hatton carded 1 after the second round at position T32. The Englishman recorded a 74 at Augusta National in the second round of the Masters Tournament.

Martin Laird, currently number 100 in the world golf ranking, also found himself in T32 position and trailing leader Justin Rose by 8 shots. Laird, recorded 5 birdies in his second round.

Matt Wallace currently number 48 in the world golf ranking finished in T40 position and is trailing leader Justin Rose by 9 shots. Wallace, currently ranked 48 in the world golf ranking, registered 3 birdies in his second round.

Ian Poulter, who has no major titles to his name, carded 3 over after the second round at position T47. The Englishman played the course at the Augusta National in 73 shots in the second round of the Masters Tournament.

The Masters is being played from April 8th until the 11th of April 2021 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia (USA). This year a total prize money of $ 11.500.000 will be awarded to the players. The course for the tournament at Augusta National Golf Club plays at Par 72.

Top-5 Leaderboard: Masters Tournament

PosNameTodayTotal
1Justin Rose0-7
T2Will Zalatoris-4-6
T2Brian Harman-3-6
T4Marc Leishman-5-5
T4Jordan Spieth-4-5

Show complete leaderboard of Masters Tournament

Categories
European Tour

Hatton storms into five shot lead in Abu Dhabi

Round Two Report

Tyrrell Hatton has a fourth Rolex Series victory in his sights after opening up a commanding five shot lead on day two of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The World Number Nine recorded an eagle – his third of the week – four birdies and a single bogey in the first 13 holes of his second round before play was suspended due to fading light just before 6pm local time.

Tyrrell Hatton: “I’m obviously in a great position at the moment. It was certainly tough out there, so I’m really happy to be five under. Holed some nice putts and there was a couple par putts toward the end of my round, nice to hole them and keep a bit of momentum going.”

The Englishman, who triumphed on home soil at the BMW PGA Championship in September for his fifth European Tour title and his third Rolex Series victory, will re-start his round at 7.30 am on Saturday as he aims to hold off a chasing pack that includes four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy.

The overnight leader slipped back to seven under par with four holes left to play of a rollercoaster second round, to sit in a tie for second alongside Jason Scrivener, Jazz Janewattananond, and Romain Langasque, who will also return to complete the round on Saturday morning.

Jason Scrivener: “It was hard work this afternoon. Had to hole a few nice par putts to keep the round going but happy with it. Put in a lot of work over the off-season and it’s nice to see it pay off this early, and yeah we look forward to the weekend.”

Two time Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Tommy Fleetwood is amongst a group of ten players at six under par after a bogey-free five under par round of 67.

Tommy Fleetwood: “I think yesterday, I struggled, like I walked off and sat there last night and talked to Finno and Tommo, and I think I just forced it a little bit.

“It was really windy going out there in tough conditions and I think I tried to force a few golf shots playing in the wind, trying too hard to hit good golf shot and didn’t do the things that we work on, really. So that was just something that we spoke about.”

(Text: European Tour Press Release)

Categories
European Tour

McIlroy aiming to get the job done in Abu Dhabi

Four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy hopes to continue his strong run of form at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as he starts his 2021 season at the first Rolex Series event of the year.

In ten appearances  the Northern Irishman has finished runner-up three times and third on three further occasions, admitting that he has done “everything but win” around Abu Dhabi Golf Club. The 31-year-old is no stranger to success in the Middle East, claiming four of his 14 European Tour titles in the United Arab Emirates as well as winning the Race to Dubai three times.

McIlroy will begin his campaign in the company of defending champion and reigning European Number One Lee Westwood, and  World Number Three Justin Thomas. The 2017 US PGA Championship winner admits he has been an avid viewer of the tournament in the past as he prepares to make his first appearance in the Middle East.

Former champion Tommy Fleetwood will go in search of a third win in the space of five years at this event. After a near three and a half year wait for his second European Tour title, Fleetwood won the 2017 edition which he then successfully defended the following year. In 2020, he finished runner-up to Westwood.

Rory McIlroy: “It’s good to be back. I started my season in Abu Dhabi from 2008 to 2018 and it’s worked well for me. It’s a golf course I’ve done well at and played well on. I’ve done everything but win here and yeah, I’ll try again and see if I can get the job done.

“I enjoy playing in the desert, this style of golf. Obviously last year was a different year and I really didn’t travel back over this part of the world and play at all. But now with things, it’s still obviously not where we want it to be, but I think we know a little bit more about what’s going on in terms of how the virus is and how it affects you or how it doesn’t affect you in many cases and feel a little more comfortable traveling.

“It’s great to be out here and playing. It’s a great way to start the year. It’s a big event. Got some great players here. Obviously J.T. has made the trip over, as well. The start of our Ryder Cup points starting again, so a lot of guys will want to start well and get themselves off to a fast start in regards to that, too.”

Justin Thomas: “I’m very excited. This is a tournament and a place that I’ve watched on TV many times back home and it’s an unbelievable place. You know, it’s even nicer being on a Troon property for me, a partner that I have and I’m very close with, and it’s an unbelievable course. It’s in immaculate shape.

“It definitely is going to help driving it well. It seems like a course that if you’re driving the ball well, you have the opportunity to make a lot of birdies. The greens are pretty soft and they are in very good shape to where if you put the ball in the right place on the greens, you can make a lot of putts and really go low. That’s kind of been our priority here this week is just figuring out lines, figuring out shots and what I want to hit off the tees.”

Tommy Fleetwood: “I think it’s a great way to start the year. Everybody seems to like coming out to the Middle East just after Christmas and New Year, do some practise, and you come out here and you have some great tournaments to start the year.

“It was never really a course that gave me much pleasure, really. I missed a lot of cuts to start off with and all of the sudden in 2017, things kind of turned around and I started hitting good golf shots around the golf course. I’ve been on a lovely run in this event.”

Text: European Tour Press Release