From January 16 to 19, one of the biggest and most important events in the golfing calendar is coming to Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is once again being hosted by Abu Dhabi Golf Club and it will see some of the biggest names in the men’s game descend on the city for four days of golfing action, with each player hoping to walk away with the Falcon Trophy.
One of the contenders is last year’s winner Shane Lowry, who is fresh from a successful year that also saw him win The Open at Royal Portrush in Ireland.
We caught up with the Irish player ahead of the prestigious championship.
How much of a boost was your win in Abu Dhabi last year?
It was a great feeling to be able to lift the Falcon Trophy. Having lead for three days it was good to be able to stay strong and grind out a victory when I was as much as four shots behind on Sunday. It was a huge confidence boost for me, and there’s really no doubt that it set me up for the rest of the year, not least at Portrush.
Do you feel like you can now cope better with the pressure and expectation of big events?
Winning in Abu Dhabi was definitely a key moment for me. I hadn’t won in a while so to win a Rolex Series wire-to-wire was awesome for my confidence. Winning the Open at Portrush was on a whole new level although I was mainly feeling lots of warm home support rather than pressure and expectation. I loved the feeling of being able to deliver a win in my home country at such a special Open.
After your win at The Open do you now expect to be able to take on anyone in the world?
Getting a Major under my belt is massive and to have that last year along with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship really made it awesome. I actually haven’t won a tournament since The Open so I definitely don’t assume that I can take on anyone, but I know if I get myself in a good position on the Sunday in Abu Dhabi that I am well able to get over the line, whoever is in the field!
How does the National course compare to other courses on the European Tour?
It’s definitely become a favourite of mine after last year. It’s a beautiful course that both challenges you and provides opportunities in equal measure. The views of the falcon clubhouse down the 9th and 18th are so unique, the 12th is a really stunning par three and the clubhouse and practice facilities are all world class. I think pretty much everyone who’s played in Abu Dhabi would agree that it’s a perfect place to play golf.
How do you like your chances of successfully defending the title?
Defending a title is probably harder than winning it the first time around. On the other hand, I know the course and the conditions well. I’ve been putting in a lot of work to make sure that I arrive in Abu Dhabi feeling good about my game and have the best chance of winning. Sensible course management and holing putts are probably the main ingredients to being successful on the National course as, while there are plenty of birdie chances, there is plenty of trouble to get into too.
To grab your tickets for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship visit www.abudhabichampionship.com.