Tommy Fleetwood to draw on past Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship success despite Yas Links move

Englishman secured successive wins on the National Course in 2017 and 2018

Tommy Fleetwood hits out of a bunker during a practice round ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links. Getty
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Even with the switch to Yas Links, two-time champion Tommy Fleetwood hopes to lean on previous successes in his bid to capture a third Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Englishman’s wins, in 2017 and 2018, came at the National Course, the tournament’s home since its inception in 2006, so of course that familiarity has gone.

“It's going to be a completely different test,” Fleetwood, competing on tour for the first time since November, said on Tuesday. “I think I've played this course once, maybe twice. But being honest; I remember very little about it.

“But you obviously draw on that I've had success in the area. First event of the year, you never quite know what to expect. I always feel very aware that I haven't played a tournament for a while and you feel rusty.

“But once you get going and get into, you start to pick up things about your game and feel a lot more in the flow of things. Draw on all the good experiences I've had in this event, and take the next two days to learn about the course, and start again.”

Since the back-to-back triumphs, Fleetwood has tended to begin the season in Abu Dhabi well. In his past two starts, he finished tied-2nd and tied-7th.

However, with the likes of world No 2 Collin Morikawa and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy in the field, and on that new layout, the 2017 Race to Dubai winner acknowledges a serious test awaits.

“I've been saying for a while, no matter where you play now, the standard of golf is so high, the margin for error is so small, and no matter where you are you're not going to get away with playing mediocre,” the world No 41 said.

“You have to turn up and give it some of your best form or highest level to compete with everyone out here. But it's great for the sport and it's great for this event to have so many great players here.

“I love playing over here. I love golf over here. I love how popular it is. But I've had success here, so there's a lot of good things going for me this week, and just excited to get going.”

Updated: January 18, 2022, 12:18 PM