x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Championship, a guide to the course

A hole-by-hole guide to the National Course by top players and caddies from around the globe

The 17th hole of the National Course in Abu Dhabi.
The 17th hole of the National Course in Abu Dhabi.

Top golfers and caddies from around the world give their expert opinions on the fairways in Abu Dhabi ahead of the tournament

No 1 - Par 4, 405 yards

David Horsey, England

A great chance of birdie. If you hit a driver between the traps and down the right side, you've got only a wedge into the hole. It's about 280 yards to the left trap, so I just need to keep it in front of that bunker. You can spin it back to a right-hand flag because there's a backstop there. On the left there's a little hump so, depending on where the flag is, you need to control where the ball bounces and spins.

The mistake you don't want to make: Short is dead. You can spin it off the front of the green and end up with a 40-yard pitch shot.

No 2 - Par 5, 600 yards

Colin Byrne, Ireland (caddy)

Plays shorter than the yardage. The wind is normally helping and the fairway has got a bit of run to it, so you can really get your drive down there. Even if you get in the rough, there's a chance of getting a flyer which can help you get there in two.

The mistake you don't want to make: I don't care what anyone else says, you have to think this is a birdie chance.

No 3 - Par 4, 439 yards

Simon Khan, England

I haven't seen how the bunker on the right has been reconfigured, but I'm told it's more in play. Everyone hits it to the left of the pin [to avoid the bunker on the right] but then you've got a tricky downhill left-to-right putt. It's not one of the toughest holes.

The mistake you don't want to make: The bunkers on the left tempt you. It dog-legs left and you think you can just hit it over those bunkers, but it's a big hit to carry over there.

No 4 - Par 3, 174 yards

Peter Hanson, Sweden

If the pin is on the front of the green it's playing a lot easier than if the pin is at the back. Normally the wind is blowing off the right and it can be pretty strong sometimes. You need to hit a seven or six iron into the wind. The difficulty of the hole can change when you move the pin around. The green is covered by bunkers on all sides and they are deeper and more difficult this year.

The mistake you don't want to make: You don't want to hit it long. If you hit it into the back bunker you have a very difficult up and down.

No 5 - Par 4, 469 yards

F. Andersson Hed, Sweden

It's long and normally played into the wind, with a green that's undulated and tough when you get there. You have to be on the right level of the green to make putts.

The mistake you don't want to make: If it's into the wind, you can't fly the bunker on the left. They've added a new bunker in the landing area on the right this year.

No 6 - Par 4, 469 yards

Foz Foster, England (caddy)

Water comes into play down the left and the tee shot sort of snakes to the right. A lot of guys were hitting a three wood off the tee in the region of 270 yards, which would leave probably an eight-iron into the green. Some guys try to take it on; being more aggressive, cutting a driver and feeding it down into the neck of the fairway to leave a wedge in.

The mistake you don't want to make: A driver brings the water into play on both sides off the tee.

No 7 - Par 3, 200 yards

Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland

An intimidating par three. It's a slightly-downhill shot and you've got some rocks at the front of the green, and the front and rear of the green are elevated. It requires a very accurate shot into a bowl shaped green.

The mistake you don't want to make: You don't want to miss the green; you certainly don't want to short-side yourself.

No 8 - Par 5, 597 yards

Alvaro Quiros, Spain

A very tight fairway at the end. It's wide, but it turns left, and most of the time you are hitting it to a very small area. It depends on the conditions, but if I catch the fairway normally I can hit it in two. The green receives the ball on an up-slope - a good thing - and I can hit a long club and stop it easily.

The mistake you don't want to make: The fairway becomes very tight at my distance.

No 9 - Par 4, 456 yards

Rhys Davies, Wales

The falcon on the clubhouse is a great starting point for this hole: depending on the wind you're looking at a point of the wing as an aiming point. It's a long par four that often plays into the wind, so you've often got a long second shot. The bunker comes into play on the right hand side of it, particularly when the pin is tucked away in the back, right corner.

The mistake you don't want to make: If you can put the ball into the middle of the green and pin high you're always going to be happy on this hole.

No 10 - Par 5, 582 yards

Martin Kaymer, Germany

I usually hit a driver over the left side of the bunkers at the front of the fairway. They've added length, but before if I was on the fairway I would have a chance to go for the green in two, probably with a five wood or three wood. If it's in the rough, I lay it up, but I'm still going for birdie with the wedge approach.

The mistake you don't want to make: In the trees on the right side of the green is the worst place you can be.

No 11 - Par 4, 417 yards

Ross Fisher, England

It's not a long hole and you can either hit a driver and take on the traps, or hit something down towards the left-hand trap, probably with a three wood. If you lay-back you're going at it with anything from a nine iron to a wedge; if you're more aggressive, a sand wedge or a lob wedge.

The mistake you don't want to make: Off the tee you've got to put it on the fairway.

No 12 - Par 3, 186 yards

Henrik Stenson, Sweden

I'm not too keen on three iron par-3s, and this is one of them. The tough thing is to get close to the back pins. Other than that, you've just got your wind direction right and hit a good shot. It would take quite a big miss for any of us to hit it in the water.

The mistake you don't want to make: You would leave yourself a tricky up and down if you go over the back.

No 13 - Par 4, 414 yards

Roger Morgan, New Zealand (caddy)

If you hit a driver, you have got to hit it over the right edge of the bunkers on the left, but they've added another bunker in the landing area this year to make that shot more complicated. It's a difficult green. You have to be on the right level if you're going to make birdies.

The mistake you don't want to make: Going right off the tee, near the footpath; if you're not in the thick grass, you can be in the sand.

No 14 - Par 4, 490 yards

Mark Mazo, US (caddy)

It's a pretty big hole and they've made it even bigger this year. You play the three wood despite the length, simply because the tee shot plays short and the bunker [at the corner of the dog-leg] comes up pretty quickly. It's a pretty accommodating green.

The mistake you don't want to make: Getting too aggressive when it's playing down wind.

No 15 - Par 3, 177 yards

Pablo Martin, Spain

A great birdie chance. You can go right at the flag, hitting between a nine and a six iron, depending on the wind and the position of the flag.

The mistake you don't want to make: Short-siding yourself. If the flag is long and you're over, then you've got a tough up and down.

No 16 - Par 4, 475 yards

Gregory Bourdy, France

For me, it's a driver because it's a long hole. We need to drive between the bunkers on the right and left. Then we still have a long shot to the green. It's not really tight - the fairway is quite large actually - but we like to cut the corner a little bit to get a shorter second shot.

The mistake you don't want to make: If you miss with your driver, it's a very tough hole. The mistake is to be in the trees, the bunker or the rough.

No 17 - Par 4, 483 yards

Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland

A long hole that usually plays into the wind. You're trying to hit it to the right of the fairway bunkers, maybe hitting it 280 yards because it's into the wind. The toughest pin position is on the front right.

The mistake you don't want to make: 16 and 17 are holes where you're just trying to make par.

No 18 - Par 5, 557 yards

Matteo Manassero, Italy

A good par five, because if you're long you have to hit the first straight and well. If you're not that long, the lay-up is not easy and the second shot gets complicated. Then the third shot can change a lot because the green is 50 metres long. It's difficult to get the distance right.

The mistake you don't want to make: For long hitters, the water and the bunker come much more into play.