Star-studded field braced for Abu Dhabi Golf Championship

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Tyrrell Hatton holds the trophy as others look on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. courtesy: Twitter

Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton is seeking a record-breaking fifth Rolex Series victory, with the successful title defence of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, which gets under way on Thursday.

Abu Dhabi Championship is the first tournament of the four-event Rolex Series, which culminates with DP World Tour Championship in November.

Hatton ruled out any advantage and said all the players have an equal chance of winning on a new-look Yas Link golf course.

“It is strange, normally going back to a place where you’re defending you have great memories from the year before but the fact that it’s a new venue in many respects doesn’t feel like defending, and this week is going to be a new challenge for everyone. No one has played it before,” said Hatton.

“So you don’t know how the scoring is going to be and things like that. It’s going to be a challenge. But I’ll try my best and we’ll see what happens,” he added.

“I’ve tried to treat every event the same, and not get too work up in my own mind. Obviously, I kind of do that enough on the golf course. Going into it, I just need to try and treat everything the same and that’s what I’ve done throughout my career.

“This week is a new course for everyone, so it’s hard to kind of know what the rough winning score generally is. I know we’ve got a lot of wind forecast for Friday and that’s going to obviously be a challenging day for everyone. But we’ll go out there. We’ll give it our best and see what happens.”

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy will look to bounce back and end his major title drought by winning the elusive title in his eighth attempt. The Irishman sounded upbeat ahead of the tournament.

“My game feels good. I think there’s always excitement and anticipation about a new year coming around and wanting to get off to a good start.

“I’ve been playing well in practise. I’ve been practising well. I’ve done some good work over the really sort off-season that we had. But yeah, it feels good. It’s nice to come out here and have these run of events be the first events of the year. It’s perfect weather,” said McIlroy.

“It might be a little windy for the week but you can get some good practise in and you still want to do really well in the tournament but it’s a bit like, you know, just to see where your game is and see what you need to work on going into obviously the meat of the season in a couple months’ time.

McIlroy was the world number one midway through the 2020 season but had slipped to 16th in the rankings just 15 months later.

“I definitely feel like I turned a corner after The Ryder Cup. I think anyone that was paying attention saw I played better those few events did I play after The Ryder Cup and it’s just trying to continue on what I’ve been working on since then,” he added.

“I think trying to eliminate the big miss off the tee, those destructive shots where you make doubles from, reign that in a little bit and getting more effective with the scoring clubs.

“If I do drive the ball well I give myself so many opportunities. It’s about hitting new shots that maybe go to 15 or 20 feet or inside ten feet and all of a sudden you start to hole some and get a bit of confidence there.

“There’s not much I need to work on but there’s a couple of key aspects, and I think if I can get them down early in the year, I could be in for a good season,” concluded the former world number one The winner of the 2019 edition of the Abu Dhabi Championship Shane Lowry said he confident of adding more laurel to his glittering career by winning back the title.

“It’s obviously along the coast here, and it’s going to be quite windy, links-style, but it’s fairly tricky around the greens, and so it’s going to require a lot of good iron play. And decent with the short game if you miss the greens,” said Lowry.



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