Organisers of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship say they will continue to place emphasis on securing the most prominent names in golf, as they announced on Tuesday free general-admission tickets for the event’s first run at Yas Links Abu Dhabi next month.
The tournament, the opening Rolex Series event of the 2022 season, makes its inaugural appearance on Yas Island from January 20-23. Now in its 17th year, the tournament had previously been staged on the National Course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
World No 2, and winner last month of the Race to Dubai, Collin Morikawa and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy have already been confirmed for next month, with organisers saying on Tuesday that they expected to announce more stellar names “very soon”.
“Attracting the best players is one of the most important aspects in our organisation of the event for the past several years,” Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said. “We decided always to have the best of the best field when we started promoting the event.
“In terms of organisation and set-up, we always try to have our tournament as a benchmark in cooperation with the European Tour - now DP World Tour - but at the same time we always try to balance it with the best players available in the world ranking. That was our main objective.
“We are always lucky to have Rory here and we’re very fortunate to have agreed with him last year to come back again. And with Morikawa, it’s amazing to have him after winning the DP World Tour Championship last month and being ranked the tour’s No 1. It’s a good mix.
“We promise that is always going to be our aim. We will not put organising the event over the sporting aspect; we will balance it with having the best organisational quality we can get and at the same time we will always improve the field.”
Al Awani said the move to Yas Links was prompted by a desire to showcase Yas Island. He thanked “great partner” Abu Dhabi Golf Club for their collaboration to this point, and added that the transition to Yas Links had been smooth - even for a tournament of such scale.
“There haven’t been that many challenges because the place is so developed,” Al Awani said. “It’s the other way - it’s made our lives easier. Yes, the course is going to be challenging for the players.
"But, from our side, the challenge will be just showing the people a new experience. At the least we have to meet the minimum of their expectation when they come here. Other than that, all the infrastructure is great, all the hotels are within walking distance, and everything is catered for all in one place with all the activities and the world-class attractions. We are so excited.”
On the free admission, Al Awani said: “There were a lot of changes in the past two years with Covid-19, so it is a gift for the fans to have a different experience and, together with seeing the best players as always at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, enjoying that magnificent effort that has been done to this amazing island.”