Can Rory McIlroy finally win in Abu Dhabi after years of near-misses? We look at some of the possible storylines to follow in the first DP World Tour event of the year.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is the first of back-to-back Rolex Series events and the start of a four-week ‘Middle East Swing’, with three of the world’s top 10 in action and the tournament taking place at Yas Links for the first time in its history.
Will McIlroy make his Abu Dhabi breakthrough?
McIlroy’s record in Abu Dhabi is impressive to say the least, despite never winning the tournament, with the Northern Irishman finishing runner-up four times and securing four further top-three finishes in his previous 11 appearances at the event.
McIlroy claimed second behind Martin Kaymer in 2011 and lost out by a shot to Robert Rock a year later, before finishing tied-second in 2014 and ending runner-up behind Gary Stal in the 2015 contest.
The four-time major threatened a breakthrough win in last year’s event but failed to turn a 54-hole lead into a maiden Rolex Series victory, with a final-round 72 seeing him slip into a share of third and five strokes behind tournament winner Tyrrell Hatton.
McIlroy hasn’t won on the DP World Tour since his WGC-HSBC Champions success in November 2019 but enjoyed two victories on the PGA Tour last year, with the 32-year-old now looking to make a winning start to his 2022 campaign.
R1 Featured Groups (live on Sky Sports)
Times GMT0330 Westwood, McIlroy, Hatton 0340 Scott, Wiesberger, Hojgaard
Can Morikawa enjoy more Desert success?
The world No 2 is making the trip to the Middle East for back-to-back Rolex Series events, two months on from becoming the first American winner of the Race to Dubai with victory at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Morikawa’s Dubai win was one of three victories last season, with the 24-year-old also claiming titles at the WGC-Workday Championship and The Open, while the two-time major champion continues to challenge Jon Rahm at the top of the world rankings.
A tied-fifth finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii this month continues a run where he has finished no worse than seventh in his past five worldwide starts, with Morikawa able to move to world No 1 for the first time with a big performance on his Abu Dhabi debut.
Live DP World Tour Golf
January 20, 2022, 3:30am
Morikawa needs a victory this week to have any chance of becoming the quickest player to reach No 1 since Tiger Woods, plus requires Rahm to finish outside the top-seven on the PGA Tour at The American Express.
Will Hatton successfully defend his title?
Hatton registered his sixth DP World Tour title and fourth Rolex Series victory in last year’s event, with a brilliant six-under 66 on the final day pulling him clear of the chasing pack and seeing him finish four shots clear of closest challenger Jason Scrivener.
The Englishman added two further runner-up finishes during an impressive 2021, claiming tied-second on the PGA Tour at the Palmetto Championship and finishing two shots behind Danny Willett at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – an event he has won twice.
Only two players have previously won back-to-back editions of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, with Kaymer claiming successive wins in 2010 and 2011 and Tommy Fleetwood successfully defending his title in 2018. Will Hatton become the third?
How can I watch the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship?
Sky Sports will have extensive coverage from the first DP World Tour event of the year, with Featured Groups coverage available from all four tournament rounds ahead of six hours of full action each day.
Live DP World Tour Golf
January 20, 2022, 7:00am
Featured Groups action is live from 3.30am over the first two rounds and 5am over the weekend, with the main coverage from 7am each day.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is one of four golf tournaments live on Sky Sports this week, with The American Express, the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions and the Latin America Amateur Championship also available to enjoy.
Watch the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week live on Sky Sports Golf!
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