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Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 17 Jan 2022 | Comments

THE DP World Tour resumes in style with a star-studded field headed by Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy taking part in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links. It is the first Rolex Series event of 2022 and boasts an impressive prize fund of $8m.

Yas Links Abu Dhabi on Yas Island hosts the tournament for the first time, heralding a new chapter for an event which has long been a fixture on the global golf schedule and continues to attract some of the game’s biggest stars. 

Morikawa rounded off a stellar year with a season-ending victory at the DP World Tour Championship, his maiden Rolex Series title, and will begin the 2022 campaign as the reigning DP World Tour Rankings Champion after beating his fellow American Billy Horschel to first place in the season-long race. 

The World No2 had already sealed a debut victory at the 2021 Open Championship - his second Major win - on top of a World Golf Championships title at the WGC - Workday Championship at The Concession in February. The 24-year-old is the tournament favourite in the latest odds released by Betway.

“I cannot wait to return to the Middle East and play the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the first time,” said Morikawa. “I have heard great things about the event and it always attracts a world-class field year on year, but I know this year will be extra special at Yas Links for the first time. It’s a course which I know is hugely popular amongst the players from the Pro-Am that has been played there in the past, and I’m excited to start my season as reigning DP World Tour Rankings Champion there.”  It is a brave man who would bet against Morikawa finishing on top of the pile again.

McIlroy, meanwhile, is back for a 12th appearance as he chases a maiden Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship victory, having come close on numerous occasions - the 32-year-old boasts four runner-up finishes as well as four third-placed finishes. 

The four-time Major winner wrapped up his 2021 campaign with a tied sixth place finish at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship to finish eighth in the season-long rankings.

The Northern Irishman won The CJ Cup on the PGA Tour and with Morikawa claiming his maiden victory in the desert, the pair will once again go head-to-head to kick start their 2022 seasons in the Middle East. 

McIlroy said: “I have many happy memories of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and once again look forward to starting my year at this wonderful tournament. Yas Links is a spectacular course and is going to provide a new challenge but one all players will enjoy. Obviously, I have come close a few times at this event in the past, and I’m hopeful I can be in with a chance of picking up that trophy for the first time come Sunday.” 

Rory McIlroy

First staged in 2006, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship has been played at the iconic Abu Dhabi Golf Club for 16 consecutive years and, having built a strong legacy in the Middle East, the move to Yas Island highlights Abu Dhabi as an international sports hub with the season ending F1 Championship and Ultimate Fighting Championship also taking residency at the world-class venue. 

Yas Island is Abu Dhabi’s premier leisure, retail and entertainment hub, leading the way in supporting the emirate’s Economic Vision 2030. The new venue offers a unique blend of stunning views, first-class hospitality and a diverse range of award-winning leisure and entertainment attractions, enhancing the experience for fans, whether they attend in person or watch from around the world. 

Yas Links Abu Dhabi, designed by Kyle Phillips, opened in 2010 and recently ranked 48th in Golf Digest's global Top 100 courses. It also hosted the golf element of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games.

The tournament was won last year by Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who shot a sparkling 6-under par in the final round to win by four strokes after overnight leader McIlroy faded with an uninspired even-par 72 to drop into third.

Hatton carded a closing 66 to finish 18 under par and secure a sixth European Tour title. Australia’s Jason Scrivener recorded an eagle and five birdies in a back nine 29 to claim second place on 14 under, with McIlroy a shot further back following a disappointing final round.

McIlroy held a one-shot advantage at the start on Sunday and doubled his lead thanks to birdies on the second and third, but three-putted the fourth and also dropped a shot on the par-five eighth following a poor drive.

Playing partner Hatton matched McIlroy’s birdie on the second and also picked up shots on the seventh and ninth to reach the turn with a two-shot lead. McIlroy looked certain to close the gap when he found the par-five 10th in two, inches closer to the hole than Hatton was in three, but Hatton holed from 35 feet for an unlikely birdie and McIlroy two-putted for his.

A bogey on the 11th dropped McIlroy further off the pace and Hatton made certain of victory with birdies on the 13th and 16th.

Tournament Winners

It was won in 2015 by Gary Stal, in 2016 by Rickie Fowler, in 2017 and 2018 by Tommy Fleetwood, in 2019 by Shane Lowry, in 2020 by Lee Westwood and last year by Tyrrell Hatton.

The Course

Yas Links is a par 72 measuring 7,200 yards. Although carved out of desert, it has a genuine links feel, featuring dunes and many well-placed bunkers. Accuracy is going to be the key to scoring well here.

Form Guide

Collin Morikawa is snapping at the heels of Jon Rahm at the top of the world rankings and has made it clear that he wants to be world No1. His last finish on the DP World Tour saw him win the DP World Tour Championship and finish on top of the Race to Dubai. He is the best iron player on the planet and is not coming here to make up the numbers. Viktor Hovland continued his remarkable progress in 2021, winning on both the PGA Tour and European Tour. He is a hugely impressive ball striker and has improved his short game massively. Rory McIlroy is looking to continue the progress he made when winning the CJ Cup, one of two successes he enjoyed in 2021. This is a massive year for the Northern Irishman. He has come close here before and would love to go one better this time.

For the latest odds at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, please visit Betway.

To Win:

Viktor Hovland. Europe’s best and brightest prospect (11/1)

Each Way:

Rory McIlroy. In need of a confidence boosting victory (8.5/1)

Each Way:

Collin Morikawa. Brilliant American (8/1)

Five to Follow:

Viktor Hovland. Ready for a second success on the DP World Tour (11/1)

Rory McIlroy. Enjoys this part of the world (8.5/1)

Collin Morikawa. Can win anywhere (8/1)

Tommy Fleetwood. Needs a big year, and what better place to start that? (23/1)

Tyrrell Hatton. Defending champion who loves this part of the world (23/1)

Five Outsiders:

Thorbjorn Olesen. Finally free to focus on his golf again (101/1)

Rasmus Højgaard. A proven winner but needs to move to the next level (51/1)

Justin Harding. Underrated South African (101/1)

Adrian Meronk. Poland’s best (81/1)

Sam Horsfield. Talent is beyond question, but has a suspect temperament (51/1)

Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography

This tour preview article was written in collaboration with Betway.

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Tags: european tour dp world tour


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