Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Tommy Fleetwood  (Getty Images)
Tommy Fleetwood (Getty Images)

The 2017 Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood will go head-to-head with World Number One Dustin Johnson, four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy, 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson and 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Justin Rose in his defence of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.

They will be joined by American Ryder Cup player and 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist Matt Kuchar, and two-time Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Paul Casey at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from January 18-21.

Last year's event boasted the second strongest field of the 2017 European Tour season, and the 126-man field will compete for a prize purse of $3 million, an increase of $300,000 from previous years.

McIlroy will make his return from injury as he begins preparations for the Masters Tournament in April.

"I am looking for a strong start in 2018 and Abu Dhabi is the perfect place to open my season's campaign," said McIlroy. "Having come really close here on more than one occasion, I will be completely focused on trying to win the coveted Falcon Trophy and getting myself back into the winners' circle - that would be a real confidence boost to start the New Year."

World Number One Johnson, who has been at the top of the rankings for 39 consecutive weeks, said: "Abu Dhabi is great, it's a fun course to play and I felt I played really well during my first appearance there, aside from my first day troubles with the putter.

"I hope to be in contention again this year and hopefully finish one spot better than in 2017. Aside from the Majors and the weeks immediately following my injury, it has been a really good year for me, having won four times. Hopefully Abu Dhabi will serve as the perfect springboard for me in 2018."

Stenson, winner of the 2016 Race to Dubai, will return to Abu Dhabi for his 13th consecutive year and will be hoping to go one better than his runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2008. "I am hoping 2018 will finally be my year," said the Swede. "I know the UAE well having lived there for almost ten years and think the course is magnificent.

"Having played every year, the inaugural Championship will always live long in the memory having come so close to winning the title."

Justin Rose, winner of the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open in back-to-back weeks at the end of last season, has also confirmed his attendance. 

"Starting 2018 off in Abu Dhabi is something many of the players on Tour look forward to," said Rose. "I've had a strong end to 2017 and I'll be hoping to carry on that momentum as I arrive in the capital once again.

"It's a really enjoyable yet testing course which gives us players a challenge each round, and I'm sure I'm not the only one looking to take the Falcon Trophy from Tommy this year."

Winner in 2007 and 2009, Paul Casey will travel to Abu Dhabi in pursuit of equaling Martin Kaymer's record of three Championship victories.

"Abu Dhabi is an incredibly special place for me, having won the Championship twice," said Casey. "After a strong start to the season so far, I'm confident heading into the Championship and know what it takes to get the job done. It would be great if I could equal Martin's record there."

After finishing second at The Open and fourth at the Masters last season, Kuchar will be hoping to start 2018 with a victory at Abu Dhabi Golf Course as he prepares to make his Middle East debut.

"I have heard so many good things about the Championship from my friends on the Tour," said Kuchar. "I am very excited to finally be playing in Abu Dhabi and experience everything it has to offer. Despite there being a lot of emerging talent coming through the ranks, I am confident that if I can keep up my good form from 2017, I'll be well placed come Abu Dhabi in January."

His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “Today’s announcement continues our tradition for attracting the best names in world golf. Over the past 12 editions the Championship has welcomed the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

"Today’s announcement shows our commitment to maintain the calibre of field and we are thrilled to announce the Magnificent Seven. We have also, together with the unwavering eight-year support of our headline supporter HSBC, built an off-course offering which is the envy of many and a significant draw in its own right – we are enhancing this further with the support of our recently welcomed presenting partner, EGA.” 

David Kotheimer Deputy CEO and COO UAE, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited added: “We are thrilled by the announcement of such a stellar field for the 2018 edition of the Championship.  As we tee off the eighth year of our sponsorship, it is satisfying to reflect on HSBC’s role working alongside the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to cement this event as the jewel in the crown of Middle Eastern golf.  The new partnership with EGA is exciting and will only help strengthen the event’s profile further.  We have a combined desire to drive the game forward and further inspire a new generation of golfers.  This is great news for golf in the region.” 

The tournament, held at the showpiece Abu Dhabi Golf Club, was recently renamed as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA. 

The deal means that EGA is now backing both key UAE championships on the early-start Desert Swing – the other being the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. EGA is the only company to sponsor both events. 

Abdulla Kalban, Managing Director and CEO of EGA, said: “This is the first time this great Championship will be presented by EGA, and as always the line-up promises a fantastic competition. I expect the 2018 Championship will once again bring together many in the Abu Dhabi community as well as putting a global spotlight on the capital.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FLEETWOOD, TommyENG18-22
2FISHER, RossENG18-20
T3MCILROY, RoryNIR18-18
T3FITZPATRICK, MatthewENG18-18
T5PAISLEY, ChrisENG18-17
T5PIETERS, ThomasBEL18-17

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