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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA has been elevated to Rolex Series status

The 2019 tournament, held in January, will take up one of the eight slots on the series

Tommy Fleetwood successfully retained the Falcon Trophy after winning the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. AFP
Tommy Fleetwood successfully retained the Falcon Trophy after winning the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. AFP

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA has been elevated to Rolex Series status on the European Tour.

The tournament, taking place at Abu Dhabi Golf Club next year from January 16-19, will for the 2019 season take up one of the eight slots on the series, with its purse rising from $3 million (Dh11m) this year to $7m.

Introduced on the European Tour last year, the Rolex Series offers increased prize funds and enhanced Race to Dubai points in a design to attract greater fields.

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship’s new standing means the series will be bookended by events in the UAE, with the DP World Tour Championship at Dubai’s Jumeirah Gulf Estates marking the conclusion to the season-long Race to Dubai.

“We are honoured to become one of the elite Rolex Series events and to see our tournament so publicly recognised as one of the world’s leading golf tournaments,” said Aref Al Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, on Monday.

“This news highlights our important relationship with the European Tour, one of the world’s leading golf organisations, as well as being an important milestone to celebrate with our valued title sponsors HSBC and our partners Rolex and the EGA. Abu Dhabi is ‘A Global Capital of World Sport’ and the international recognition that becoming a Rolex Series event brings certainly underlines our reputation for hosting the world’s best sporting events.”

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The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA has been a regular fixture on the European Tour since its launch in 2006 and has grown to become one of the leading events on the circuit. Traditionally it attracts among the strongest fields for a regular Tour event. The 2019 line-up has yet to be announced, although current European No 1 Tommy Fleetwood, winner of the past two titles, is certain to return to the National course in an attempt to capture the Falcon Trophy for a third successive year. Player announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

Next year’s tournament will for the first time run Wednesday to Saturday to accommodate the 2019 Asian Cup, since the continent’s premier football event will be staged in the Emirates for only the second time, from January 5-February 1.

The European Tour confirmed its 2019 calendar on Monday, with the Abu Dhabi event kick-starting a three-week ‘Desert Swing’. The Omega Dubai Desert Classic takes place at Emirates Golf Club the following week, while the new Saudi International, hosted in King Abdullah Economic City, Jeddah, is slated for January 31-February 3.