The European Tour starts its two-tournament Dubai swing with the 14th edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the United Arab Emirates.
The tournament, contested at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, is one of three consecutive events in the Middle East to kick off the European Tour’s 2019 calendar year, alongside next week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the new Saudi Arabia event.
The field of 128 players is headlined by top stars, including Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, and Henrik Stenson, among others.
Tournament: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Dates: Jan. 17-20, 2019
TV Network: GOLF Channel
Course: Abu Dhabi Golf Club
Where: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Distance: 7,600 yards, Par 72
Architect: Peter Harradine
Field/Format: 126 players; 72-hole stroke; 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $500,000
Race to Dubai Points: 421,000
Defending Champion: Tommy Fleetwood
TV & ONLINE COVERAGE
Then called the Abu Dhabi Championship, the tournament was first contested in January 2006 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which has hosted the event since its inception.
The creation of the tournament was part of the European Tour’s effort to expand into Asia, and is part of a fivesome of Tour events played in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, alongside the Dubai Desert Classic (founded in 1989), the new Saudi Arabia event (2019), the Qatar Masters (founded in 1998), and the DP World Tour Championship (founded in 2009).
HSBC became the title sponsor in 2011, with EGA added as the presenting sponsor in 2018.
Despite its limited history, the champion’s list is impressive, headlined by three-time winner Martin Kaymer, and Paul Casey, a two-time winner. Tommy Fleetwood (2017) and Rickie Fowler (2016) were the two most recent winners.
2018: Tommy Fleetwood
2017: Tommy Fleetwood
2016: Rickie Fowler
2015: Gary Stal
2014: Pablo Larrazábal
2013: Jamie Donaldson
2012: Robert Rock
2011: Martin Kaymer
Wins: 3 – Martin Kaymer (2008, 2010-11)
72-Hole Score: 264 (-24) – Martin Kaymer (2008)
Tommy Fleetwood fired a final-round 7-under 65 to successfully defend his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by two shots over fellow Englishman Ross Fisher.
The 27-year-old star finished with a single blemish against eight birdies, highlighted by six on his home-nine, en route to a 22-under-par-total.
Fleetwood started the day two off the lead, and when Fisher turned at 32, the Race to Dubai champion found himself five shots back with nine to play.
However, Fleetwood began home with a birdie on No. 10, and when coupled with a bogey by Fisher, the momentum swing was clearly in the air. The defending champ was down just three with eight remaining.
Starting on No. 12, Fleetwood reeled off four birdies on his next five holes (12-16), while Fisher finished the same stretch at even-par, producing a four-shot swing and a one-shot lead for the Southport, England native.
A final birdie on 18 gave Fleetwood a two-shot cushion, and when Fisher failed to eagle, it was a two-shot victory.
“It was pretty good on that back nine really. I think at the turn, it was just a few shots – the up-and-down on ten, the up-and-down on 11, 13, got a bit lucky with the tee shot,” said Fleetwood, who, with the win, moves into the top 10 in the world rankings.
“When putts were going in like 15 and 16, you just feel like, could this be my day again. Then 18, I mean, forget the second shot, the up-and-down was one of the best up-and-downs I ever made. So happy days.”
FINAL TOP 5
1 Tommy Fleetwood -22
2 Ross Fisher -20
3 Rory McIlroy -18
3 Matthew Fitzpatrick -18
5 Chris Paisley -17
5 Thomas Pieters -17
The field this week in Abu Dhabi is headlined by a trio of American Ryder Cup stars in Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka, alongside a fivesome of winning Cuppers from Europe in Tommy Fleetwood, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Thorbjorn Olesen, and Tyrrell Hatoon.
Other top names include former European Ryder Cup stars Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Thomas Pieters, Lee Westwood, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, and Martin Kaymer. South Africans Louis Oosthuiezen, Brandon Stone, and Branden Grace will join Englishman such as Ross Fisher, Eddie Pepperell, and Matt Wallace to round out a solid field in Abu Dhabi.
Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images