Desert Swing to launch 2013 Fantasy game

1/9/2013 12:54:00 PM
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship to launch another exciting season of fantasy golf...  (EuropeanTour)
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship to launch another exciting season of fantasy golf... (EuropeanTour)

One of The European Tour’s biggest events will once again herald the start of the Fantasy Race to Dubai next week when the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship gets underway from January 17-20.

Play your cards right and you could follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Laura Kennedy who earned herself a VIP stay in the desert for the 2013 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as well as a brand new set of Titleist clubs.

We’re offering up the same five-star prize package to our winner this year, but whoever wins will need to have come to terms with a few changes to the game in 2013.

Teams will once again comprise  ten players per tournament, but in a change from recent years, managers can now completely overhaul their line-up for each event to ensure every member of a team is playing in any given week.

We have also introduced a new weekly Top 10 Challenge game that will see the best ten teams per tournament qualify for a season-ending Top Ten Shootout in Dubai to decide an ultimate winner, therefore allowing players to enter throughout the season while still having plenty to play for.

More details of the Fantasy Race to Dubai and Top 10 Challenge can be found here, and as you ponder your line-up for week one, here are ten players we think could be valuable additions to your teams in 2013.

The Big Five

One man in form is Charl Schwartzel, the current Race to Dubai Number One, who is fresh off a 12 shot victory romp at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December to win on The European Tour for the first time since his maiden Major title at the Masters Tournament in 2011. This came just one week after a similar demolition of the opposition at the Thailand Golf Championship where he won by one less to signal what now seems like an impressive resurgence in form.

Next up is the breakout star of 2012, and fellow South African Branden Grace, who burst to prominence last year with a staggering four European Tour wins. He will defend the second of these at the Volvo Golf Champions this week, and having also picked up silverware at the Joburg Open, Volvo China Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, it will be interesting to see if he can replicate that form.

Matteo Manassero became the youngest ever to win three European Tour titles when he defeated Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off at the Barclays Singapore Open in October, and all by the tender age of 19. As a result the Italian finished in a career best 13th place on the Race to Dubai, and buoyed by a new confidence, this could be a break out year.

Another impressive young gun is Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen who picked up a maiden title at the Sicilian Open in April, went almost stroke-for-stroke with Tiger Woods in the third round of The 141st Open Championship, and secured a place at Augusta National courtesy of a year-ending 50th place on the Official World Golf Ranking. A man going places, and one to keep an eye on.

Last but not least, reigning Race to Dubai champion and World Number One Rory McIlroy will be keen to continue his dominance of world golf in 2013. He tees it up for the first time this year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he will headline the field alongside Tiger Woods, looking to go one better than last season’s solo second behind defending champion Robert Rock.

The Graduates

There are few graduates on The European Tour in 2013 that will have as many eyes on them as Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg who, in just seven events, picked up four titles on The Challenge Tour to finish second on the Rankings last year. Not only that, but he is fresh off finishing second on his own at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in just his ninth European Tour start.

Espen Kofstad completed a Challenge Tour double to close out his season with victory at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final also securing him the Number One spot on the Rankings. The Norwegian follows in a long line of top talent to have finished at the summit of the Challenge Tour pile en route to European Tour success, and Kofstad looks capable of following suit.

England’s John Parry first won on The European Tour at the Vivendi Cup 2010, but has since struggled for form and even lost his card. However fresh off his Qualifying School Final Stage success at PGA Catalunya Resort in November he is clearly back on form and ready for more success.

In September Moritz Lampert was representing Team Europe at the Junior Ryder Cup in Chicago but just months later, after a sixth place finish as an amateurat the Qualifying School Final Stage, he’ll be mixing it on The European Tour. What he lacks in professional experience he clearly makes up for in ability, and this 20-year old German is clearly a name for the future.

Returning to our crop of Challenge Tour graduates, Englishman James Busby shot one of the gutsiest final rounds of the season at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final to jump from 45th to 16th on the Rankings and earn his European Tour card. Five birdies in the final 12 holes saw him almost claim victory, but when faced with a five footer on the last for par and a place on The European Tour, he stepped up and poured it in. An outsider for sure, but he can clearly hold his nerve.

Just ten names to keep an eye on as the Fantasy Game prepares for another thrilling season of European Tour action, so make sure you login to My European Tour today to select your first team of the season and who knows, you could be jetting off to Dubai with a brand new set of Titleist clubs come 2014.

Good luck.