Golf’s first esports series, the European eTour, begins at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA this week.
The inaugural season-long eTour will feature six esports contests held at European Tour tournaments around the world, with players going head-to-head in the leading online and mobile golf game, World Golf Tour (WGT) by Topgolf, which is currently played by more than 20 million people worldwide.
Eight players will compete onsite at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, initially in two round robin groups, before straight knockout semi-finals and final, with competitors battling it out for a $10,000 prize.
Thousands of players competed in open qualifying in December, with four of those qualifying coming from the United States (player names Golfx3, JSmithers, Luked9 and Shefuf). Germany (birchi), the United Kingdom (fmagnets), Spain (herjavimi) and Romania (sebicu) each have one representative.
All players will use the same set of virtual golf clubs as to level the playing field for the tournament.
The competition is the first of five events that will coincide with the European Tour before the global finals at DP World Tour Championships in Dubai where the five champions and three wildcards will compete for a bumper prize pool of $50,000.
Here we take a closer look at those competing in the first esport event of the season on the European Tour.
Shefuf is the username of 38 year old Casey Sheffield, who lives in Florida and is married with two children. He has played WGT since 2015 and was surprised to qualify, although the operation manager at a power company is excited for the opportunity.
JSmithers, also known as Joshua Smith, is a 33 year old from Illinois. A train engineer, his wife is expecting the couple’s fifth child in February. A WGT veteran of nine years, he expects to be in contention.
Francesco Javier Lopez Veira will be representing Spain under the username herjavimi. A 49 year old from Granada, he works as in a court of justice and is married with a 12 year old son. He plays WGT for two-three hours a day but has never tried to play golf, despite being a big fan.
Simon Lanfermann, aka birchi, is a 28 year old from Berlin. The US Virtual Amateur Championship winner hopes to put his previous live event experience to good use, having made the semi-finals at last year’s Made in Denmark.
Golfx3 is 21 year old Payton Gordley from New Mexico. A computer science student, he plays golf off a handicap of four.
Romania will be represented by 36 year old Comsa Sebastian, aka sebicu. The Targu Mures native plays WGT for two hours a day and made the quarter-final at the Made in Denmark.
Luked9 is 33 year old Luke Nathaniel Davis from California. A personal trainer who runs his own business, Davis has already set his eyes on winning the main prize in Dubai come November.