Daniel Box
By Daniel Box

For the last few years, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship has marked the start of the new European Tour season proper. The best players in the world have blown off the cobwebs from their Christmas break, new equipment and equipment deals are in place, and there is plenty of renewed optimism in the air.

This event is also the first Rolex Series event of the new season too. If you're not familiar with this, think of it as one level up from a regular event, and one level down from a WGC or a major. That means a bigger purse, more world ranking points, and therefore a better field.

Last Year

Shane Lowry kicked off his fantastic 2019 season in fine fashion with a victory at the Falcon Course, holding off the challenge of Richard Sterne to complete a wire-to-wire win.

2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Preview

A birdie on the 72nd hole proved decisive with Lowry signing for a 71 to take the title, although most of the work was done during a stunning opening-round 62 which gave the Irishman a comfortable lead which he never surrendered.

Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen and Brooks Koepka all finished inside the Top 10, alongside Englishman Paul Waring who's closing 69 gave him a share of sixth place.

The Course

The event will be held for the 15th consecutive year at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which is instantly recognisable thanks to its Falcon Clubhouse and incredible views of the city skyline from virtually every hole.

As a par 72 which measures over 7,500 yards the course is certainly not a pushover, particularly when the wind starts to blow, but despite that the scoring has historically been very good, often reaching into double digits under par.

There has been plenty of rain around in the last few weeks too, which should soften the course and provide even more opportunity for low scoring.

The Field

As mentioned earlier this is a Rolex Series event, and so the field is packed with world-class golfers including the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood and the returning Brooks Koepka, who missed out on the Presidents Cup at the end of last year due to injury.

Defending champion and Champion Golfer of the Year Shane Lowry is paired alongside Fleetwood and Koepka for the first two rounds, whilst South Africans Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen make the trip after finishing 1-2 in their native Open last week.

This also presents a great chance to pick up a chunk of Ryder Cup qualification points, which is going to be hotly contested over the next 6 months or so. For those golfers who don't happen to be from the USA or Europe there's also the small matter of the 2020 Olympics too, with only one space available for certain nations.

Our Tips

The Favourite - Patrick Cantlay @ 10/1

Perhaps the most underrated golfer on the planet. He ranks 6th in the World Golf Ranking and I'll put good money on the fact that at least half of golfers in the UK have never even heard of him! After a couple of tough years with injuries he's finally showing just how talented he is, and appears to have no real weaknesses.

2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Preview

A 4th place finish in Hawaii at the Tournament of Champions was a great way to start off the year and he should arrive slightly less rusty than others. With the Ryder Cup and Olympic Games coming up this year, a good week here may go a long way.

The Underdog - Sergio Garcia @ 35/1

Garcia has an excellent record in the Middle East, including six consecutive Top 20 finishes at this golf course whilst also recording a win at the Dubai Desert Classic.

After recently celebrating his 40th birthday, the Spaniard is in the twilight of his career but you feel that, with his talent, there must be a few more big performances left in the tank. Could he add to his major tally this summer?

The Longshot - Paul Waring @ 75/1

The Englishman had one of the best years of his career last year, with a string of solid finishes across the European Tour including during Rolex Series and WGC events. His consistency was impressive too, with 10 consecutive Top 30 finishes to end the year, which has seen his World Ranking plummet down to 74th.

He also has an excellent track record on these desert-style courses, including 6th and 3rd place finishes during the Desert Swing this time last year, so don't be surprised to see his name up at the top end of the leaderboard this January.

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