The award-winning Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA has announced its final player field ahead of the action which tees off next week from 18 - 21 January, with notable additions to the world-class field including Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ernie Els, Tyrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, and Danny Willett.
Staged at the iconic Abu Dhabi Golf Club from next Thursday (January 18), golf fans from the UAE and across the globe, will have the chance to watch six former Abu Dhabi champions, 89 of the top 100 on the final 2017 European Tour rankings and 24 Ryder Cup stars who, between them, have a combined total of 62 Ryder Cup appearances, challenging for the famous falcon trophy.Â
The 2018 roster reads like a whoâ€™s who of world golf, including defending championÂ Tommy Fleetwood, World Number One, Dustin Johnson, four-time Major winner, Rory McIlroy, Olympic Gold Medallist Justin Rose, 2016 Open Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist, Henrik Stenson and Olympic Bronze Medallist Matt Kuchar, to name but a few.
With a number of Championship invites still to be announced later this week, already challenging to win this yearâ€™s coveted title is an illustrious final field that between them boast 16 Major titles, 370 European Tour victories and 86 PGA Tour victories, underlining the fact that the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA is one of the Official World Golf Rankingâ€™s strongest international events.
Reigning champion and World Number 18, Tommy Fleetwood is in no doubt about the challenge he faces in retaining this yearâ€™s Falcon Trophy, mainly due to the golfing talent set to appear this January. Fleetwood observed:
â€œThe line-up of players is incredible again this year and is a great testament to the quality of the tournament that Abu Dhabi Sports Council hosts with the support of HSBC. The fact it includes so many Major winners and past champions is one of the reasons why we all play here. Winning in Abu Dhabi last year really was the start of my best season ever, and coming out on top of so many of the worldâ€™s best players made the win even more special. This year will be my first ever defence of a title so will be memorable for that reason.â€
Popular Spanish star, Rafa Cabrera Bello, ranked 20th in the world, is set to appear in his 10th Championship next week commenting:
â€œIâ€™m looking forward to returning to Abu Dhabi for my 10th consecutive year. It is a fantastic place to start 2018 and, as always, the field is set to be one of the strongest we will see all season. Itâ€™s one of my favourite events on the calendar and, having finished as high as fourth in the past, I know the course suits me.â€
Englandâ€™s Tyrrell Hatton, who featured on the leaderboard at last yearâ€™s Championship until a final round 75 derailed his challenge added:
â€œI canâ€™t wait. Iâ€™ve been working hard on my game in the off-season and cannot wait to get back out competing. Abu Dhabi is a world-class field and with so many Official World Golf Ranking and Ryder Cup points on offer, itâ€™s a very important week for us all.â€
Ahead of the Championship, His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, spoke enthusiastically about the four-day event and the future of golf in the country:
â€œAbu Dhabi is committed to delivering world-class sporting events and our 2018 field of players, including the stand-out World No.1, is testament to this. I look forward to welcoming such an impressive field and visitors from across the world to witness the pinnacle of sport during the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.â€
With the support of HSBC and EGA, the Championship has firmly placed itself as one of the premier golf tournaments in the world, with the stunning National Course sitting alongside the world-class Championship Village.
Abdulfattah Sharaf CEO of HSBC UAE reiterated the importance of the stellar player line up when it comes to making the Championship so special: Â
â€œAbu Dhabi has become known as the start of the global golfing season and is now one of the most important events in world golf. We are confident that our commitment to this great tournament will continue to drive the game forward. By offering world class sporting entertainment for the entire family on and off the course we aim to introduce even more people to this wonderful game and make golf even more accessible.Â We are thrilled by such a stellar field for the 2018 edition. This is great news for golf in the region.â€
Last yearâ€™s Championship in 2017 boasted the 2nd strongest field on the 2017 European Tour season - not including the Majors & World Golf Championships, and this acted as a major draw for Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) when they decided to partner with the Championship for the first time in 2018. Commenting on the player additions, Abdulla Kalban, Managing Director and CEO of EGA said:
â€œLooking at the final player line-up alone, itâ€™s an exciting prospect and promises a fantastic Championship. This field along with the world-class golf course and perfect weather guarantees a spectacular start to the year â€“ weâ€™re delighted to be a part of the 2018 edition.â€
Previous championships have seen over 60,000 spectators attend, as well as broadcast consistently reaching over 450 million viewers, so the 13th edition will be looking to go one better in 2018, surpassing previous record numbers. Spectators will be particularly thrilled over the four-day championship, as 126 players will compete for a total prize purse of $3,000,000 - an increase of $300,000 from previous years.
The 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA will run from January 18 â€“ January 21 with Abu Dhabi Sports Council looking to top this yearâ€™s turnout of over 69,000 spectators. The 2017 tournament grew the championshipâ€™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 worldâ€™s best vie for the coveted Falcon Trophy and a share in the US $3 million prize purse.