World No 7 Patrick Cantlay will debut at this month’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.
The American, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, joins an already stellar field confirmed for the January 16-19 event, which is headlined by world No 1 Brooks Koepka. Rising star Viktor Hovland will also make his tournament bow, with China's Haotong Li also confirmed. In contrast to Cantlay and Hovland, the 2018 Omega Dubai Desert Classic champion will contest the Falcon Trophy for the third successive year.
“I’m very excited to play for the first time in Abu Dhabi,” Cantlay said. “I’ve heard great things about the course, the fans and the experience as a whole. With a such a strong field this year, I’m looking forward to competing against some of the best players in the world and to try and take home the Falcon Trophy.”
As it stands, Cantlay would be the second highest-ranked player to feature in Abu Dhabi. His victory at the Memorial in June lifted him into the world’s top 10 for the first time in his career, and came off the back of a run of impressive results.
Cantlay, 27, finished tied-9th at the Masters in April, and tied-3rd at the PGA Championship the following month. He went on to come home runner-up at the BMW Championship in August – the second event of the FedEx Cup play-offs – while in October he lost to Kevin Na in a play-off at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. It was his second successive second-place finish at the tournament.
A former world No 1 amateur, Cantlay will be joined in Abu Dhabi by Hovland, who has been given a tournament invite to play. The Norwegian, who recently topped the amateur ranks too, was touted as one of the game’s most exciting prospects even before graduating to the professional game following his tied-12th at the US Open this summer.
Hovland, 22, won low-amateur honours at the Masters earlier this year, finishing in a tie for 32nd, and went on to finish fourth at the Wyndham Championship in August. His runner-up spot later that month at the Albertsons Boise Open, part of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, secured Hovland his PGA Tour card for this season.
Hovland's presence adds another interesting subplot to the Abu Dhabi event. Open champion Shane Lowry returns to defend the Falcon Trophy he won in dramatic fashion last year, while two-time winner Tommy Fleetwood will be seeking to join Martin Kaymer as the only other player to capture a third title on the National course.
Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett and Ian Poulter are also competing, while Dubai-born 15-year-old Josh Hill provides come real local interest. The tournament, the first of eight Rolex Series events on the European Tour, boasts a purse of $7 million (Dh25.7m).