The first significant event of the year is the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from January 18-21.
Part of the Desert Swing on the European Tour, the Abu Dhabi event sees some of the leading names from the PGA Tour make the trip across the Atlantic to form part of a stellar line-up as they clash with the best from Europe.
Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion having won in Abu Dhabi last year by a shot from Dustin Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal. It was a win that helped Fleetwood triumph in the Race To Dubai at the end of the season.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship History
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship was first held in 2006 and has become one of the leading events on the European Tour.
Sponsored by HSBC since 2011, the $2.7 million event attracts a high class field looking for early season form and has been won by some of the world’s leading golfers.
Triple winner Martin Kaymer and two-time champion Paul Casey are joined on the roll of honour by the likes of Jamie Donaldson, Rickie Fowler and last year’s victor Fleetwood. Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, is a four-time runner-up and Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood have all gone close.
Kaymer holds the four-round tournament record having posted a score of 24-under par in 2011 when defeating McIlroy by eight shots.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Course
Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which hosts the event, was only opened in 1998 but is a spectacular setting. The course measures 7,600 yards and poses a par-72 challenge. Water comes into play on nine of the 18 holes.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Contenders
World number one Dustin Johnson is a deserved favourite when you consider he was runner-up 12 months ago and heads to Abu Dhabi on the back of a resounding victory in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii two weeks ago.
Tommy Fleetwood, the man who pipped him to the title 12 months ago, will be bidding to go back-to-back in the event.
Rory Mcllroy begins his 2018 season coming back from injury, and he will be hoping for slightly better luck at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he has finished runner-up four times.
Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, two other men to have had to settle for second place in the past in the event, are also towards the head of the betting markets to taste success this week.
Paul Casey is seeking a third victory in the tournament on what is his first event since returning to the European Tour full time, while don’t rule out Martin Kaymer on a track he clearly enjoys having won three Abu Dhabi titles.
Tyrrell Hatton was a breakout star of last season and will be out to show he can take his game to the next level in 2018.