The 2016 US Open winner Dustin Johnson will make his first appearance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship alongside reigning champion Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett when the tournament begins on January 19.
The headlining pack will also be joined by Branden Grace, Alex Noren, Thomas Pieters, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Thongchai Jaidee and Thomas Bjørn. The award-winning tournament, which boasted the strongest field of the 2016 European Tour season outside of the four Major Championships, has become renowned for delivering a world class field year after year.
Johnson will be looking to maintain the momentum he gained from winning his first Major at the US Open at Oakmont Country Club in June, and hopes to feel right at home when he takes to the first tee.
“I’m really looking forward to it and pleased to have the opportunity to play in Abu Dhabi," said Johnson. "I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard really good things about the golf course from Rickie and Rory, who tell me I’m definitely going to like it, and about Abu Dhabi itself so I’m really excited about going.”
Fellow American Fowler is expected to drive fans back to Abu Dhabi Golf Club as he returns to defend the Falcon Trophy. The 27 year old clinched victory in memorable style in 2016, finishing one shot clear of Thomas Pieters.
"Abu Dhabi was a high point for my 2016 season, along with competing in the Olympic Games and being on the winning 2016 USA Ryder Cup Team," Fowler said. "Coming out on top against the strongest field on the European Tour was as good a start as anyone could aspire to. I’m excited to go back having been there the last two years and now there’s a good reason, being defending champion.”
His Excellency Aref Al Awani, Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s General Secretary, said, “The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship has become one of the most anticipated golf events globally. We are proud to announce that the 2016 edition offered more world rankings points than any other European Tour event this season.
“In announcing this 12-strong line up, including the addition of US superstar Dustin Johnson, the 2017 Championship looks set to be even stronger. We are all anticipating another thrilling week of golf as we welcome the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to the capital for its twelfth instalment.”
Rory McIlroy is in the hunt for his first victory at the event when he tees off for the tenth time in January. The four-time Major winner has seven top fives, including four runner-up finishes, at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Olympic silver medallist Stenson returns to Abu Dhabi for the 12th time as a Major champion, having won The 2016 Open Championship during a thrilling final day at Royal Troon Golf Club.
“It’s great to see the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship grow so much over the years and HSBC is putting a lot of effort and commitment into golf by hosting one of the top events on the European Tour,” said Stenson. “It’s a great way for me to start my season – good weather, good practice, good courses, good food, good hotel and we get well looked after.”
2016 Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett has already tasted victory in the United Arab Emirates, winning the 2016 Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The 29 year old plans to use the tournament as a springboard to build on the success he had last year.
“Abu Dhabi is renowned for getting really good fields and I think this year’s is probably going to be one of the strongest they’ve ever had with this year’s Major winners – myself, Henrik and Dustin – as well as Rory and Rickie defending," said Willett.
HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events Giles Morgan said: “Every year we take the opportunity through this tournament to inject a new level of excitement and energy into the game of golf at the start each new season. Just look at the player line-up alone; It’s a mouth-watering prospect and one of our strongest fields yet that is hard to rival either in the region or during the European Tour schedule. This field guarantees a spectacular start to 2017.
“If you add to the player line-up a festival atmosphere, a world-class golf course and perfect weather, you have the recipe for something very special indeed. We believe the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is a shining light for world golf. Not only does the tournament set the tone for the new season ahead but it is also a launch pad to take the game into a new exciting direction. The tournament aims to engage with new fans in new ways in a new market, to make golf more accessible, to make golf anyone’s game.”
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is presented by ADSC and will take place from 19 – 22 January 2017 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Visit www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com for more information.