World No 1 Koepka in starry Abu Dhabi Cham­pi­onship line-up

The National - News - - SPORT - JOHN McAULEY

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.