Gary Stal is targeting more success at Abu Dhabi Golf Club when he tees off in this week’s Abu Dhabi Challenge, the first of back-to-back Challenge Tour events taking place in the UAE as part of the long-term partnership with the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF).
The Frenchman produced the biggest win of his career to date at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in 2015 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he overturned an eight shot deficit to deny Martin Kaymer and secure a maiden title on the DP World Tour.
The 31-year-old is delighted to be back in the UAE and hopes to use fond memories of this week’s venue as fuel for further success.
“For me, it's always special when I'm back here,” he said. “Just the feeling I had and the memories I made. There was the 16th hole, where I made a big birdie putt, and then the walk up the 18th. I always remember the last putt too. It was just 20cm for the win. That feeling was special.”
Stal, a two-time Challenge Tour winner, has been refamiliarising himself with the course over the last few days as he looks to return to the winners circle for the first time since 2015.
“You need everything on this golf course,” he said. “You need to hit your drives straight and after that you have a lot of six, seven and eight irons to hit, which you need to hit with precision.
“I’ve been preparing the same way I always do. I've taken down some notes on the course, and it's good to remember the wind direction here. For me, the ninth is a key hole this week. It's not easy to hit that fairway, just because of the wind. If I can win again this week, I'll be very happy.”
The Frenchman is one of 19 former DP World Tour winners teeing it up in a star-studded field this week, that includes seven-time winner Álvaro Quirós and 2023 Junior Ryder Cup Captain Stephen Gallacher.
Emirati Number One Ahmad Skaik will make his Challenge Tour debut as 30 spots have been allocated to the Emirates Golf Federation to help create playing opportunities and provide a pathway for Emirati golfers.
The back-to-back events in Abu Dhabi have been made possible due to the long-term partnership between the European Tour group and the EGF, in addition to the support of the host venues Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, along with sponsors ARENA, Phoenix Capital and Al Laith.
The Abu Dhabi Challenge will get underway at 6:45am local time, with Stal teeing it up alongside South African Dylan Mostert and Swede Adam Blommé at 8:15am.