[dropcap]Now celebrating its 10th birthday, the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championships has quickly become one of the highlights of the European Tour, and has since attracted top name, with both World Number 1 Jordan Spieth and last years Race to Dubai World Champion, Rory McIlroy competing this year. Last year, we saw arguably the biggest tour meltdown in 2015 with Martin Kaymer throwing away a 10 (Yes 10!) shot lead on the final day of the tournament and effectively gifting the tournament to the then world No 357 Gary Stal. This year looks to be no different in throwing in the odd surprise either, with World No 644 Bryson Dechambeau currently leading after an inspired round of 64 (-8) on the opening day. With round 1 of the tournament just finished, we take a look at how the rest of the tournament might pan out…[/dropcap]

Our Pre tournament predictions…

As you may know, a few YGT members have recently returned from their own taste of Abu Dhabi Golf. And it’s fair to say… these pros are in for some of the finest golf in the sun around! Whilst out there, YGT even got to play the tournament host course itself…

Walking up the 9th fairway at Abu Dhabi Golf Club…

Here’s what YGT’s Rory and Oliver thought of their arrival in Abu Dhabi and their predictions before the tournament kicked off…

How the field is shaping up so far…

So how are their predictions looking? Oliver has kept faith in Martin Kaymer, sweeping aside his infamous meltdown last year and instead drawing confidence in his three previous wins at the Championships. Well… Currently Kaymer sits a respectable 12th in the leaderboard, 5 shots behind the leader. Rory’s pick of his long lost brother Rory McIlroy is looking much more promising and the Northern Irishman sits in a comfortable 3rd, just 2 shots off the pace. Other likely competitors come the close include Swede Henrik Stenson who sits in second with a score of -7 and rising star Matthew Fitzpatrick, who lies tied 7th on -4, along with the likes of tournament newcomer, Jordan Spieth.

When Rory met Rory…

Which group to follow?

Unquestionably, the golfing ‘supergroup’ of the tournament has got to be the in form trio of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler. And with the group containing 3 of the world’s top 5, you’ve got to fancy a winner emerging from the pack. Here’s Rickie warming up on the range ahead of the tournament…

Rickie Fowler on the range on Monday… The American sits 5 shots off the pace and could be a real contender going into the closing stages of the tournament.

World Number 1 Jordan Spieth is also in the field in Abu Dhabi…after a solid score of -4 in round 1 has him sitting within touching distance of the leaders.

The course

Abu Dhabi Golf Club is arguably the hall mark of golf in Abu Dhabi. At 7,334 yards from the back tees and an unforgiving rough, the course places a premium on driving. While the greens are generous, strategically placed bunkers ensure that well struck shots from the fairway are a must. Here’s what some of the pros have said of Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the past…

[quote]“I’ve started here every year since I’ve been on Tour since 2007. I’ve been very successful. This is always a place where I like to come. There’s more competition, but it’s in general, I really enjoy coming here overall; the people, the golf course, the food, the hotel, everything feels really comfortable to me.”[/quote] – Martin Kaymer

Abu Dhabi Golf Club

[quote]“We have got great practice facilities here, as well as a golf course that can identify your strengths and your weaknesses. It’s a world class course and in immaculate shape and you can easily identify where you’re playing well and where you’re not.”[/quote] – Phil Mickelson

Abu Dhabi Golf Club

[quote]“It’s a golf course that’s always sort of suited my eye. I’ve always done well here. I had a couple of chances to win, and Martin Kaymer was just too good those times.  It’s a long golf course and you’ve got to hit it well off the tee and take advantage of the par fives, which I feel like I can do.”[/quote] – Rory McIlroy

Abu Dhabi Golf Club

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Will Dudley

Will Dudley

Enjoy a round of Links Golf at my beloved home course Hunstanton, in Norfolk. When the sun shines I'm a bit of a bandit, when it doesn't I won't trouble the scorers!

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