Woods, McIlroy to vie for Abu Dhabi glory

ABU DHABI — World No 2 Tiger Woods has confirmed his participation in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for a second consecutive year, it was announced on Wednesday.

By James Jose

Published: Wed 17 Oct 2012, 11:43 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:06 AM

The 14-time Major winner, who made his debut Abu Dhabi appearance this year, will headline a stellar cast that also includes the World No.1 Rory McIlroy, a two-time Major winner. The duo were paired for the opening 54 holes of this year’s tournament.

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), the organisers of the event, also said that more names, who will battle it out for the prestigious Falcon Trophy, will be announced in the coming weeks.

The $2.7 million European Tour Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, into its eighth year, will run from January 17 to 20, 2013. It will be played at the National Course of the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, though there had been talk of shifting the tournament to newer course like the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course and the Yas Links.

The organisers also said that Woods will make his only regional appearance of the season in Abu Dhabi. It means that the American will yet again skip the Dubai Desert Classic, a tournament where he had been a regular.

“As always, it will be exciting from tee to green and what goes in between,” Faisal Al Sheikh, Event Manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA, Abu Dhabi), said on Wednesday.

“Having the World No.1 and World No.2 is what the spectators and the media were looking for. As organisers, we were keen and determined to bring them back for the event,” he added.

“It is going to be a great golf experience for everyone. I am sure it will be interesting and dramatic tournament like previous years. The National Course is going to be more tougher this time. We will make more announcements in the coming weeks regarding the rest of the field,” Faisal Al Sheikh said.

“Confirming Rory and Tiger, the world’s top two players and a duo with well-documented respect and admiration for each other’s talents, represents a significant coup and demonstrates how far the Championship has come in its relatively short history,” he said.

“I’ve come close a few times in Abu Dhabi now. Hopefully it’s my turn,” McIlroy said, via a live telephone link from the USA, at the event’s official launch at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, the Championship’s new official hotel partner.

“This will be the first time I’ve headed to Abu Dhabi as World No.1 and I’m determined to keep the wins coming and cement my ranking. The strength of the field means there will be a ton of world ranking points on offer so Abu Dhabi will be a really significant tournament that sets the tone for the year. I had a great tussle with Tiger nine months ago and I’m sure he’ll be in contention again. We’ve spent a lot of time playing together this year and it’s always fun challenging the best. I’ve made no secret of the fact he’s a hero of mine and there’s nothing better than tussling with your heroes,” the Ulsterman, who emerged the hero in Europe’s Ryder Cup defence, added. Woods was in contention this year after firing a bogey-free 66 in the third round but was pipped by England’s Robert Rock for the Falcon Trophy.

“I had heard so much about Abu Dhabi in the past and I was very impressed by the crowds, the organisation and the overall atmosphere,” said Tiger.

“I really enjoyed my time in Abu Dhabi and I wanted to return, particularly as I played well and came so close last year. I’d love nothing more than to win in January and start the season in the best possible way,” Woods said in a statement.

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