Spi­eth and McIl­roy to go head to head

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Golf­ing su­per­stars Rory McIl­roy and Jor­dan Spi­eth will go head-to-head in a glit­ter­ing three­ball com­pleted by Rickie Fowler dur­ing the first two rounds of this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Cham­pi­onship.

Reign­ing Euro­pean num­ber one McIl­roy, who is mak­ing his first start of the sea­son this week as the an­nual Desert Swing be­gins in the UAE, will kick off the de­fence of his Race to Dubai crown at 7.40am on Thurs­day morn­ing in the com­pany of Amer­i­cans Spi­eth - the world num­ber one - and Fowler - the world num­ber six.

McIl­roy is yet to win the Fal­con Tro­phy de­spite a stun­ning record at Abu Dhabi Golf Club with only one fin­ish out­side 11th place for the North­ern Ir­ish­man in eight ap­pear­ances and run­ner-up spots in four of the last five years.

Spi­eth, mean­while, is mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance at the tour­na­ment and his de­but at a reg­u­lar Euro­pean Tour event.

Else­where, three-time win­ner Martin Kaymer, who blew a 10-shot lead go­ing into the fi­nal round in 2015, plays along­side the man who over­hauled him 12 months ago, the de­fend­ing cham­pion Gary Stal, and for­mer Euro­pean num­ber one Hen­rik Sten­son from 7.50am.

Three ma­jor cham­pi­ons are grouped to­gether at 8.30am as 1999 Open win­ner Paul Lawrie is joined by 2003 Masters win­ner Mike Weir and 2008 Masters vic­tor Trevor Im­mel­man, while 2014 Abu Dhabi win­ner Pablo Lar­raz­a­bal is off at 8am with Chris Wood and 2015 Rookie of the Year Byeong Hun An.

Mean­while, three first-time win­ners from the em­bry­onic 2016 Race to Dubai are grouped to­gether at 12.55pm as Aus­tralian PGA cham­pion Nathan Hol­man joins BMW SA Open win­ner Bran­don Stone and last week's vic­tor in the Joburg Open, Haydn Por­te­ous.

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