The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first European Tour event played in the new season. Since 2019 this has been part of the tour’s Rolex Series of premier events which more than double prize money available from $3 million to $8 million, rising to $9 million in 2023.
This is one of three tournaments on the European Tour which take place in the United Arab Emirates. The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is normally played the week following this event, with the DP World Tour Championship the season ending finale.
Even though the Abu Dhabi Championship was only established in 2006, there has already been three multiple winners. Englishmen Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood both have two victories whilst German golfer Martin Kaymer has three victories having been the winner in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
|Yas Links||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||7,642 Yards||$9,000,000|
Abu Dhabi Championship Recent Winners
|2023||Victor Perez||-18||1 Stroke||Yas Links|
|2022||Thomas Pieters||-10||1 Stroke||Yas Links|
|2021||Tyrell Hatton||-19||4 Strokes||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2020||Lee Westwood||-19||2 Strokes||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2019||Shane Lowry||-18||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2018||Tommy Fleetwood||-22||2 Strokes||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2017||Tommy Fleetwood||-17||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2016||Rickie Fowler||-16||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2015||Gary Stal||-19||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2014||Pablo Larrazabal||-14||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2013||Jamie Donaldson||-14||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2012||Robert Rock||-13||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2011||Martin Kaymer||-24||8 Strokes||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2010||Martin Kaymer||-21||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2009||Paul Casey||-21||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2008||Martin Kaymer||-15||4 Strokes||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2007||Paul Casey||-17||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
|2006||Chris DiMarco||-20||1 Stroke||Abu Dhabi Golf Club|
About Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Compared to the Dubai Desert Classic, which was the first European Tour event held in the Arabian Peninsula, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship can be considered something of a slow starter. The tournament’s first edition took place in 2006, 17 years after that ground-breaking event in Dubai.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship has certainly made up for any lost time though. Not only is it one of the most important golf tournaments in this part of the world, but it is one of the most prestigious events on the entire European Tour.
That prestige went up a notch in 2019 when it was included in the Rolex Series of events which saw the prize fund more than double from $3 million to $7 million (now $9 million) and ensure that the field remains incredibly strong, including some of the world’s best golfers.
DiMarco Not a Trend Setter for the USA
Like many of the big tournaments taking place in the Middle East, the organisers of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship have never been shy about paying significant appearance fees to tempt over some of the biggest names from the PGA Tour. Several big names have, indeed, played at Abu Dhabi Golf Club including the tournament’s very first winner, Chris DiMarco.
The American is high up on the list of the best players in the history of golf never to have won a major championship and he was a fitting winner of the inaugural edition of a tournament that always wanted to be associated with top echelons of golf. DiMarco, however, did not set a trend for American winners in the desert. Indeed, it would be 10 years until Rickie Fowler became the second American to get his hands on the iconic Falcon Trophy.
Fowler finished ahead of fellow PGA Tour players Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau in 2016 and has subsequently been followed to Abu Dhabi by the likes of Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Brooks Koepka. None of those big names were able to lift the Falcon Trophy and the first 18 editions of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship provided relatively slim pickings for American golfers.
Lowry the Inspiration
The European Tour is a genuinely global tour and only really has a continued run of tournaments in Europe during the summer months. For much of the rest of the season, the European Tour’s golfers travel around the globe and many have a routine of basing themselves in the UAE early in the year.
The tour’s Middle East Swing takes place in January and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is the first of the three events. It is, therefore, a great chance for golfers who hit the ground running to set themselves up for the coming season.
That is exactly what Shane Lowry did in 2019. The Irishman claimed his maiden Rolex Series win in some style at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. His wire-to-wire win (that is he led the tournament at the end of all four rounds) gave Lowry huge confidence that his game was in great shape, confidence he took with him to Royal Portrush where he won the Open Championship.
Lowry is not the only Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner to go on to win a major championship in the same season. Martin Kaymer followed up victory in Abu Dhabi in 2010 with his incredible 11 shot win at the 2010 US PGA Championship. Then there was Tommy Fleetwood who won in both 2018 and 2019 before earning what were his best major championship finishes: fourth and second at the 2018 and 2019 US Open respectively.
Courses: Yas Link Switch
From 2022, the Yas Links on Yas Island will hold the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Prior to 2022, Abu Dhabi Golf Club was the sole host of the event since it became a part of the European Tour in 2006. A series of changes to the par 72 layout that were made in 2012 means that it wasn’t exactly the same course as that on which Chris DiMarco won the first edition. Those changes meant that it is more of a challenge of accuracy off the tee even for the best drivers in the game but this is still a course which rewards power.
The importance of power was not reserved just for tee shots. The pins could be tucked into some tricky positions on the fast greens so approach play was important. Consequently, players who could hit shorter irons into the par fours should had an advantage over those who were using long irons and even hybrids.
In addition to the distance of the course, it was rather exposed and thus provided a significant defence to par when the winds whip up as they so often did in the desert layout. Players had to be very confident with their ball striking when their caddies were struggling to get a handle on the wind direction.