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.”

European Tour

Tyrell Hatton is just trying to move forward and make some more birdies

Q. 1-under par through 11, ended in 67. How pleased with your day’s work?

TYRRELL HATTON: Yeah, it was good. Didn’t make a bogey. Tough start with the weather and then yeah, I think you’ll see a lot of decent scores coming as the day gets later on because kind of the wind died in the middle and we had no rain. It was pretty gettable. But yeah, it’s always nice to start pretty good around this golf course. You go to the other one and feel like you’ve got slightly more of a chance than here so we’ll see what the week brings.

Q. Tell us about the early weather conditions.

TYRRELL HATTON: They weren’t great. I it wasn’t nice.

Q. Can you describe what it feels like to shoot 29 around the back nine at Carnoustie?

TYRRELL HATTON: I didn’t actually realise, I just signed my card them. Obviously we needed a big back nine and yeah, obviously very happy with the putter worked well and hopefully that continues.

Q. When we chatted on course, you said that you weren’t aware you were 5-under for the last five holes; is that generally the case that you are playing each shot one at a time?

TYRRELL HATTON: Generally you kind of know what my score is. But I don’t realise, like when you said earlier that I was 5-under for the last five, I’d have to go back and think about it. Obviously you’re always trying to move forward and try to make more birdies and thankfully managed to do that after we last spoke to you and obviously very happy with today’s work.

Q. Your father is out there playing with you. Obviously your coach as well. Have you done some work with him this week?

TYRRELL HATTON: No. He hasn’t looked at my swing or anything. I think he’s a bit too excited to play these courses for the first time. I imagine he’s probably quite tired. He normally plays like once every six weeks and he did 18 holes on Tuesday and he did nine holes yesterday and obviously another 18 today.

Q. How did he play?

TYRRELL HATTON: Probably not how he wanted to. He was nervous, just the whole build up to this. He actually played quite nicely in the practise rounds and he’s gone out there today and obviously not played to the level that you’d like to. But I think he enjoyed it and we’ll have a good day tomorrow.

Q. Have you got a favourite course of the three?

TYRRELL HATTON: I’d probably just say St Andrews. I think just with the history of it and it just feels more special when you’re playing — playing there. And we’ll look forward to playing there on Saturday.

Interview Transcript by Asap Sports