World No 1 Koepka in starry Abu Dhabi Championship line-up
World No 1 Brooks Koepka has been confirmed to headline the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.
The four-time major champion, recovering from a knee issue, represented the lead name at the tournament launch in the capital yesterday night, with defending champion Shane Lowry, two-time winner Tommy Fleetwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter also announced for the January 16-19 event.
In its 15th year at the traditional home of Abu Dhabi Golf Club, the tournament marks the first Rolex Series event of the European Tour calendar.
Koepka, 29, is looking to improve upon this year’s tiedninth finish in the capital in what will be his third competitive appearance at the National Course. On debut in 2014, when embarking on his first full season on tour, the American missed the cut.
Koepka has not played since injuring his knee during the second round at the CJ Cup in South Korea on October 18, which latterly forced him to withdraw from next month’s Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia.
It marks a disappointing end to the season in which Kopeka has won three times, including a second successive PGA Championship – his fourth major in two years.
Another major champion, Garcia returns to Abu Dhabi for the first time since 2014.
The Spaniard, the 2017 Masters winner, is in a good position to comment on the growth of the tournament having played in the inaugural event in 2006. Back then, Garcia finished third.
Asked why he has chosen to kick-start his season there, Garcia said: “It’s quite simple. It’s obviously a massive event; now being a Rolex Series event it’s even bigger. So it was already a great start to the year, but now it makes it even better.
“Good field, great golf course, usually nice weather. It’s nice to play in short sleeves and even sweating a little bit at the start of the year. I’m excited about it.”
Lowry, meanwhile, has enjoyed a breakthrough 2019, sparked by his Abu Dhabi triumph in January, when he prevailed by a single shot to register his first victory in three-and-a-half years. The Irishman went on to land a first major, at July’s Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
Lowry succeeded Fleetwood in lifting the Falcon Trophy in Abu Dhabi. The Englishman, 28, won there in 2017 and 2018 and has emerged as one of the game’s standout players. He is ranked world No 10.
Brooks Koepka was tied for ninth in Abu Dhabi this year