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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Matt Kuchar hopes 'high golf IQ' will see him right on Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship debut

American world No 15 says he is 'pretty good at charting a golf course

Matt Kuchar says he has “hopes, but not expectations” of a strong display on his debut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.

It is the first time the world No 15 has played anywhere in the Middle East, and he is returning to playing for the first time after a holiday with his family in Patagonia.

Despite the lack of practice in the build-up, and a course knowledge that extends to just 27-holes’ worth, the American is confident his “high golf IQ” can make him a contender.

“I think I'm pretty good at charting a golf course,” Kuchar, 39, said on Wednesday.

“I think my golf education and golf knowledge is fairly high, with a fairly high golf IQ, and [am good at] trying to figure out how to plot my way around a golf course.

“It helps to have some knowledge. I'm sure there will be a few missed shots that I probably didn't understand quite the severity of how bad that miss may end up.

“I think course knowledge is one thing, and I think executing is another thing. If I execute well, I think I'll have a good week.”

The National Course - hole by hole

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Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

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High-profile American players have proved it is possible to adapt quickly to playing at the National Course in the past.

Rickie Fowler made an indifferent debut in 2015, but was the tournament winner a year later, while Dustin Johnson was tied for second on his first visit to the capital 12 months ago.

“Certainly, it is characteristic of desert courses back home, just with fairways and then waste areas,” Kuchar said of the layout at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

“It's got the Bermudagrass greens, which certainly makes me feel at home being a southerner. We see a lot of that in Florida and Georgia.

“I've always watched on TV and then talked to a number of the guys about the course coming over here, and they really enjoyed it.”