The 13th edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, taking place on 18-21 January, has been further boosted following the news that household names Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Thomas Bjørn will all be returning to the Championship fray in 2018.
These European golfing heavyweights join the headlining pack of 2017 European Tour prize money winner and defending Champion, Tommy Fleetwood, World Number One, Dustin Johnson, four-time Major winner, Rory McIlroy and 2016 Open Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist, Henrik Stenson. Furthermore, American Ryder Cup star and Olympic Bronze Medallist, Matt Kuchar, and two-time championship winner Paul Casey also join the field.
With even more outstanding players to be announced, the roster for Abu Dhabi in 2018 underlines the championship’s reputation for delivering a world-class field year on year. Over the four-day championship, 126 players will compete for a total prize purse of $3,000,000 – an increase of $300,000 from previous years.
Despite a quiet 2017, the well-decorated Graeme McDowell is raring to get things going in 2018, recently announcing that he has put together a five-year plan to revive his game.
McDowell said: “After a very positive end to my 2017 season and some hard work ahead over the Christmas break, I’m looking forward to starting my 2018 season again in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship always provides wonderful playing conditions – it’s a great way to kick off the year.”
Ian Poulter, one of golf’s most colourful characters and a self-professed petrol head, is certainly revved up for a fast start in 2018. Having almost lost his PGA Tour card earlier in the year, he dramatically turned his fortunes around finishing with a top-60 finish in the 2017 FedEx Cup.
Poulter, another seasoned Abu Dhabi Golf Club visitor, said: “Everybody knows 2018 is going to be massive,” expressed Poulter. “I want to get out of the block quickly and set the tone for my season. My main goal for the year is obviously to make the Ryder Cup team and I'm going to be working extremely hard to reach that goal – and it all starts in Abu Dhabi.”
Despite having over 20 years’ experience on the links and being Denmark’s most successful golfer, Thomas Bjørn’s upcoming season will undoubtedly be the most important of his career. ‘The Great Dane’, who has recently been named the 2018 Ryder Cup Captain, boasts over 20 European Tour wins and is a regular competitor at the championship.
Speaking ahead of his return to the challenging national course, Bjørn said: “I can’t wait to get the year started. It’s going to be a massive year, so how we start at the championship in Abu Dhabi could help set the tone for the remainder of 2018. I’ll not only be working on my own game, but I’ll be keenly watching how our European players get on against what is, once again, a world class field.”
The 2017 Official World Golf Ranking’s end of season list confirmed that the 2017 Championship boasted the 2nd strongest field on the 2017 European Tour season - not including the Majors and World Golf Championships. This list was calculated by the number of top-200 world ranked players in the field, with the highest ranked players contributing more points towards the total event strength of field rating. Previous championships have seen over 80,000 spectators attend in person, as well as broadcast reach consistently exceeding 450 million viewers, so the 13th edition will be looking to go one better in 2018, surpassing previous record numbers.
The 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA will run from January 18 – January 21 with Abu Dhabi Sports Council looking to top this year’s turnout of over 69,000 spectators. The 2017 tournament grew the championship’s social media following by over 65% and the HD TV coverage, with a potential reach of almost half a billion viewers, allowed a global audience to watch the world’s best vie for the coveted Falcon Trophy and a share in the US $3 million prize purse.