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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Preview: HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship

Preview: HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship

The event is usually one of the strongest of the season thanks to heavy appearance fees and its elevated status as a Rolex series, although that’s less pronounced this year.

However, several LIV golf stars are among the field this week, which may go some way to explaining Rory McIlroy’s absence from the event for the first time since 2008.

The Northern Irishman had a phenomenal run in Abu Dhabi but was never victorious, including third-placed four times and runner-up on another four occasions.

Defending champion: thomas peters In 2022, he beat Rafa Cabrera Bello by one shot for his sixth DP World Tour title.

The Belgian star started the final round a shot behind 54-hole leader Scott Jamison, but was tied for the lead when the Scot dropped the ball on the first hole of the day.

With only 15 players scoring under 70, Peters shot a solid 72, finishing at 10 under and the only player in double digits on the list.

correct: Thomas Peters shot 10 under par last year to win his sixth European Tour trophy. Photo: Luke Walker/Getty Images.

course: After 14 years at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, people are excited about moving to Yas Link Last year, of course delivered.

Designed by Kyle Phillips of the Kingsbarns Hall of Famer, the layout opened in 2010 to rave reviews and a lot of anticipation ahead of last year’s tournament.

The field found the pitches and conditions challenging, as last year’s scoring demonstrated, and there’s no reason to think things won’t be just as interesting this year.

Set on an island created as part of a multibillion-dollar development, the course took three years to build and has a remarkable sense of connection despite its location in the Middle East.

With wide fairways on one side and plenty of short grass around the greens, the course is a test of imagination and execution.

One enduring reaction to the course since its debut in 2022 has been that of then-defending champion Tyrell Hatton on the par-five closing hole.

After a double bogey in the second round and a quadruple bogey nine holes in the third round, the Briton didn’t back down.

“Honestly, I wish a bomb had dropped on it and blown it up,” he said after last year’s race.

Despite receiving highly positive reviews, Yas Links’ 18th hole is far from Tyrrell Hatton’s favorite hole in world golf. Photo: Luke Walker/Getty Images.

“It was a really bad finishing hole. The fact that they moved the tee back where it was today is ridiculous. I hit a really good tee shot and still have a 290 (yard) lead. I can get a driver, Still not getting there. If you were actually being rewarded for hitting the fairways, it would be a better closing hole, but right now, you’re not.”

Hatton will take his place on the course this week, despite suggesting he finds the hole so disgusting that he may not return without a redesign.

bonus: $9,000,000

players to watch: The quicksand of professional golf over the past 12 months seems to have had little effect on the game.

Three of the world’s top 10 players are in the field in 2022, but not this year (although it’s still sure to be an interesting week).

20th in the world Sean Lowry Possessing the top ranking, his thrilling singles match against Francesco Molinari in last week’s Copa Heroes will give him some confidence heading into this week after a few not-so-great games.

A former champion of the event, the Irishman was around at Yas Links last year until an uncharacteristic final-round 77 dropped him from second to outside the top 10.

Lowry will be looking to make up for that miss, a task certainly not beyond his reach on a course where he shot two rounds of 67 last year.

While it wasn’t surprising to see Lowry at the bottom end of the leaderboard on Sunday, late arrivals were uncommon for the 2018 Open champions Francis Molinari.

The lovely Italian has battled injuries in recent years, coupled with Covid and related turmoil, and has been out of action for some time.

However, he looked rejuvenated last week as captain at the Hero Cup and played fine golf in his singles match against Lowry on Sunday, including four under par on five holes.

With the Ryder Cup set to take place in Rome in September, Molinari has extra motivation to play well in 2023, and he will be very eager to join that team.

As part of this week’s Rolex Series event, double the Ryder Cup points should be enough to motivate the 40-year-old.

Among the players who participated in last week’s Hero Cup jordan smith Stand out like a captain on a losing team Tommy Fleetwood.

But perhaps most of the attention in the coming days will be on the high-profile LIV players in the field, the 2020 champions Lee Westwood, Patrick Reed and Henrik Stenson in.

There’s a lot of friction between the tour and LIV players, some of which necessarily includes players from tour allegiances.

72-hole record: 264 (-24, Martin Kaymer2011)

Course Records: 63 (Scott Jamison2022)

Past Australian winners: No Australian has won the event.

Australians on the scene: Min Woo Lee and Jason Scrivener.

TV era*
Round 1: Thursday (6:30pm – 12:30am live on Fox Sports 505)
Round 2: Friday (6:30pm – 12:20am live on Fox Sports 505)
Round 3: Saturday (live on Fox Sports 505, 6pm-12am)
Round 4: Sunday (live on Fox Sports 505, 6pm-12am)
*AEDT, check local guide

© Golf Australia. all rights reserved.

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