European Tour Honorary Member and World Number Two Vijay Singh will headline a stellar field for this week’s inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, the Fijian one of three of the world’s current top ten players in the field.
Joining the 42 year old in the race for the lion’s share of the US$2 million prize fund will be World Number Six Sergio Garcia from Spain and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie (ten) along with World Number 11 Chris Di Marco and perennial favourite John Daly of America and a host of other top European Tour stars.
The Emirate becomes the 36th destination to stage an event on The European Tour International Schedule and, given the high quality of the field assembled for the inaugural tournament, it is little wonder that organisers are delighted with the turnout.
Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, said: “We are looking forward to hosting all these exceptional players in Abu Dhabi. With the list of top names who have confirmed their participation, this championship is set to be a very exciting event.”
Singh will make his first appearance in The Gulf since 1993 but the Fijian is a prolific winner and will be keen to add the Emirate to the list of destinations which have seen him lift silverware. “I have heard good things about Abu Dhabi and the golf course and am looking forward to seeing it for myself,” he said. "With the calibre of players entered, it looks like it’ll be a tough tournament – but that’s how I like them.”
There has been no more improbable a success story in golf than that of Singh’s, whose career began in his native Fiji and has since spanned the globe. With three Major Championship victories - 1998 and 2004 US PGA Championships and the Masters Tournament in 2000 - under his belt, Singh had the year to end all years in 2004 winning another eight times on the US PGA Tour and also dethroning Tiger Woods as World Number One for a spell.
It was little wonder then, that he was voted as The European Tour Golfer of the Year in 2004 and he continued his winning ways in 2005 with three more successes on the US PGA Tour and another 15 top ten finishes.
In all, there will be 120 players in the field for the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, which, apart from the healthy prize fund, also offers valuable world ranking points and, for the European players in attendance, crucial Ryder Cup points in the race to be in Ian Woosnam’s European Team at The K Club in September.
In current positions one and two on The Ryder Cup World Points list, Montgomerie and Garcia have got their respective quests off to a great start but will be looking for a good showing in the Gulf to cement their positions.
One man they could well face at The K Club as part of Tom Lehman’s American Team is DiMarco and the 35 year old New Yorker will exhibit the talents which saw him push Tiger Woods all the way in the 2005 Masters Tournament in Abu Dhabi too.
“As you know, I haven’t travelled outside the US that often but I am really looking forward to coming to Abu Dhabi,” said DiMarco who has three US PGA Tour wins to his credit and in 2005 finished a career-high seventh on the US PGA Tour Money List. “With so many good players, we are going to have a great tournament and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship is the sixth counting event on The 2006 European Tour Order of Merit and the first of a three week swing in The Gulf, followed by the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and the Dubai Desert Classic, a trio of tournaments worth, in total US$ 6.4 million, and a run of events which will feature nine of the world’s top 12 players in action.
It is also the 25th European Tour event to be played in The Gulf, following on from 16 Dubai Desert Classics and eight Qatar Masters and as well as featuring three Major winners – Paul Lawrie, Daly and Singh – also contains 72 players who have won on The European Tour International Schedule, with a total of 206 European Tour titles between them.
|5||JIMÉNEZ, Miguel Angel||ESP||18||-15|