If you like golf, then you don’t need us to tell you why the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship is a major highlight on the the capital’s sporting calendar. Non-golfers prepare to have your mind blown because the surprise hit of the year is coming our way.
More than 70,000 spectators are expected to be course-side during the four days’ play at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, from Thursday January 18, 2018 to Sunday 21. Former champions include Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler and Paul Casey, while Rory McIlroy is a four-time runner-up. The European Tour’s form man and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood could be the one to watch though, after claiming last year’s trophy and Dhs1.8million top prize.
A trip to the golf – and this is what non-believers are yet to discover – is a brilliant walk in the most beautifully maintained park in the emirate. Splash out and go for a hospitality package, from Dhs1,800 to Dhs2,500, and you’ll have all the premium food and beverages, terrace views and exclusive up-close-and-personal proximity to top players you would expect from a high-profile event at a world-class club.
Snap up a Dhs50 ticket, however, and you will be able to see the same golfing superstars, just a few yards further back.
There are 160 hectares of lush grassland (with the odd bunker, of course) to wander around during optimum walking weather. Follow the crowds and drift around with your favourite player (like our mate McIlroy) or stick on one hole and watch a procession of players pass through.
Speaking ahead of the event, McIlroy says: “I am looking for a strong start in 2018 and Abu Dhabi is the perfect place to open my season’s campaign. Having come really close here on more than one occasion, I will be completely focused on trying to win the coveted Falcon Trophy and getting myself back into the winners’ circle – that would be a real confidence boost to start the new year.”
If you need any further persuasion, there have been 13 hole-in-ones in the history of the tournament and none in the past three years. So we’re due one.
That would be mind-blowing whether you are a golf-lover or not.
From Dhs50. Thu Jan 18-Sun Jan 21. Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Khalifa City, www.abudhabichampionship.com (055 302 0620).