ABU DHABI -- Leading names from the world of golf will fight for glory at the 13th Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA in January next year.
And the total prize money has been raised by $300,000 to hit $3 million, said Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which owns the championship.
"The championship is really the crown jewel of Abu Dhabi's sports events. The prize money has been raised to $3 million. We want all the best players in the world to be in Abu Dhabi," Awani said during the first media interaction for the championship.
Defending champion and Race to Dubai star Tommy Fleetwood, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, two-time champion Paul Casey, two-time European Tour Golfer of the Year Henrik Stenson, seven-time PGA tour champion Matt Kuchar and World Golf Championships -- HSBC Champions winner Justin Rose are the seven star names among 126 players in the fray during the four-day tournament starting January 18.
According to officials, the Championship will feature the second strongest field on the 2017 European Tour season based on the rankings.
Rory McIlroy said to be looking to have a strong start to the new season.
"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," he said in a statement.
Stenson, meanwhile, is trying to win the tournament that has eluded him so far.
"I am hoping 2018 will finally be my year. I know the UAE well having lived there for almost 10 years and think the course is magnificent, particularly the 18th hole, Par 5, whose green is surrounded by the grandstand. Having played every year, the inaugural Championship will always live long in the memory having come so close to winning the title."
World No.14 Paul Casey is confident of a good show. "Abu Dhabi is an incredibly special place for me, having won the Championship twice. After a strong start to the season so far, I'm confident heading into the Championship and know what it takes to get the job done. It would be great if I could equal Martin's record there."
Players are all raring to get the season started with a win in Abu Dhabi and this will make the contest very competitive. And the edition will also see return of 18-hole Qualifying Tournament, which will offer three qualifying spots -- professional, amateur and national a chance to play with the top names.
This article is written by Ashwani Kumar from Khaleej Times and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Experts on the business and game of golf. The best coaching tips and latest golf news delivered straight to you. Sign Up to get the latest.