US Open champ joins stel­lar field

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

Reign­ing US Open cham­pion Dustin John­son will play in the UAE for the first time next year af­ter be­ing con­firmed as part of a strong field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Cham­pi­onship. The 32-year-old Amer­i­can will head to the UAE cap­i­tal in Jan­uary hop­ing to con­tinue the im­pres­sive form shown this year as he won his maiden ma­jor, the WGC-Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional and the BMW Cham­pi­onship. How­ever, it won’t be easy for John­son to gain vic­tory at Abu Dhabi Golf Club with reign­ing cham­pion Ricky Fowler, four­time ma­jor win­ner Rory McIl­roy, Masters cham­pion Danny Wil­lett and cur­rent Open cham­pion Hen­rik Sten­son all re­turn­ing to the tour­na­ment, which will take place from Jan­uary 19-22. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it and pleased to have the op­por­tu­nity to play in Abu Dhabi,” said John­son. “I’ve never been there but I’ve heard re­ally good things about the golf course from Rickie and Rory, who tell me I’m def­i­nitely go­ing to like it. So I’m re­ally ex­cited about go­ing.” While John­son will make his first ap­pear­ance at the tour­na­ment, Sten­son has played in all pre­vi­ous 11 edi­tions and is thrilled to have seen it grow in that time.

“It’s great to see the Abu Dhabi HSBC Cham­pi­onship grow so much over the years and HSBC is putting a lot of ef­fort and com­mit­ment into golf by host­ing one of the top events on the Euro­pean Tour,” he said. “It’s a great way for me to start my sea­son – good weather, good prac­tice, good cour­ses and we get well looked af­ter.

“I’ve been sec­ond twice in Abu Dhabi so that would be a nice one to add to the col­lec­tion.”

While Sten­son has yet to win in Abu Dhabi, Fowler claimed vic­tory in just his sec­ond ap­pear­ance at the event ear­lier this year.

The 27-year-old Amer­i­can en­joyed a mem­o­rable 2016, also win­ning the Phoenix Open, play­ing at the Rio Olympics and help­ing the US team win the Ry­der Cup.

“Abu Dhabi was a high point for my 2016 sea­son along with com­pet­ing in the Olympic Games and be­ing on the win­ning 2016 USA Ry­der Cup Team,” said Fowler. “Com­ing out on top against the strong­est field on the Euro­pean Tour was as good a start as any­one could as­pire to so I’m ex­cited to go back.”

Also in ac­tion in Abu Dhabi will be Euro­pean Tour stars Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pi­eters, Lee West­wood and Thon­chai Jaidee.

READY FOR BAT­TLE: Dustin John­son is ex­cited to play in the UAE for the very first time

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