Tougher course at Abu Dhabi golf

ABU DHABI - The National Course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club has been upgraded to create a more challenging test for the world’s top golfers when they tee off in January’s 2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

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Published: Wed 29 Dec 2010, 12:20 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:10 AM

The course, a five-time host of the PGA European Tour’s Desert Swing curtain-raiser, has been modified and tweaked in advance of the sixth edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, which takes place from January 20 to 23.

At the forefront of the course upgrades are five new bunkers on holes 2, 5, 6, 13 and 17, all designed and implemented via the combined expertise of Troon Golf, the operator of Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Rob Shuttle, senior development manager, Tourism Development & Investment Company, the master developer of major tourism destinations in Abu Dhabi, and MultiGolf, a company behind the sophisticated and unique bunkering at the Gary Player-designed course at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

The finished sand hazards are, in typical National Course fashion, both subtle and effective, with many bunkers pushed up closer to the greens. As opposed to simply deepening the traps, defined lips and steeper faces have been introduced to provide a strategic challenge for the championship field, which currently boasts six of the world’s top 10 players and all four Major winners from the 2010 season — the first time this has ever taken place outside the United States.

“I think the players will enjoy the challenge of analysing the course changes and adapting their games,” said Faisal Al Sheikh, events manager for Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), the championship organiser. “I am confident The National Course will once again provide a stern test for the field and offer the millions of television viewers tuning in around the world a fitting spectacle for what has become a flagship showpiece in Abu Dhabi’s ever-evolving sporting calendar.”

Spectators are already in for a treat at the 2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, as current world number one, Lee Westwood, headlines a stellar field that also includes, Phil Mickelson, reigning US Masters champion, Graeme McDowell, US Open champion, Louis Oosthuizen, the Open Championship winner, and Martin Kaymer, the US PGA champion and two-time Abu Dhabi winner.

Meanwhile, Paul Casey returns to the emirate looking to seal a hat-trick of National Course titles, while fellow Englishman, Ian Poulter, is aiming to go one better after a second-place finish in 2010. Ulster sensation, Rory McIlroy, and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, a three-time Major winner, are other Falcon trophy contenders.

With the course changes implemented to keep the professionals on their toes, regulars will not find the adjustments too daunting from their regular tee-boxes.

“We didn’t want to make the National a more difficult course for our club golfers because it was already a great test,” said Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s Andrew Whittaker, the course superintendent.

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