Golfing superstars Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will go head-to-head in a glittering threeball completed by Rickie Fowler during the first two rounds of this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Reigning European Number One McIlroy, who is making his first start of the season this week as the annual Desert Swing begins in the United Arab Emirates, will kick off the defence of his Race to Dubai crown at 0740 on Thursday morning in the company of Americans Spieth – the World Number One – and Fowler – the World Number Six.
McIlroy is still yet to win the coveted Falcon Trophy despite a stunning record at Abu Dhabi Golf Club with only one finish outside 11th place for the Northern Irishman in eight appearances and runner-up spots in four of the last five years.
Spieth, meanwhile, is making his first appearance in the tournament and first start in a regular European Tour event.
Henrik Stenson returns to this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for his first appearance of 2016, and the Swede admits he only has a few years left to achieve his career goals in the face of stiff opposition from the young stars at the top of the game.
Stenson will celebrate his 40th birthday in April and is the oldest player in the top six in the world, which features Major Champions Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, as well as Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler.
The Ryder Cup star underwent keyhole surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in December and admits just walking 18 holes four days running will be a challenge this week at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“I don’t feel old, but the body certainly starts to feel it I guess,” said Stenson, who has been paired with defending champion Gary Stal and Martin Kaymer in Abu Dhabi, with Spieth, McIlroy and Fowler going out together one group ahead.
The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship has become the unofficial curtain raiser on the European Tour. It’s now the preferred choice as the season opening event by many of the world’s top 50 players. The field gets stronger year on year, this year is no exception, with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy & Rickie Fowler paired together on Thursday & Friday.
Rob Brooks @GolfNation_