Abu Dhabi Former champions Martin Kaymer (2008, 2010 and 2011) and Paul Casey (2007, 2009), who share five Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship titles between them, are eyeing familiar surroundings as they look to tee-off their respective seasons.
Back in Abu Dhabi to contest next week’s eighth championship — scheduled from January 17-20 — the European pair, who swapped ownership of the Falcon trophy in an all-conquering half-decade between 2007 and 2011, both cited the ‘home comforts’ of Abu Dhabi Golf Club as a motivator to return to winning ways. Kaymer won it in 2008, 2010 & 2011 while Casey won it in 2007 and 2009.
Once ranked world number three, England’s Casey, the championship’s first double winner, is eager to put his injury-plagued 2012 season behind him. After withdrawing from the Abu Dhabi field 12 months ago with a dislocated shoulder suffered in a freak snowboarding accident, Casey — an eternal favourite of Abu Dhabi’s galleries — slipped to 122 following a recurrence of the problem before June’s US Open.
“Thankfully my shoulder problems appear to be behind me and I’m looking forward to getting out to Abu Dhabi, seeing some familiar faces and putting things back on track,” said Casey, an 11-time European Tour winner.
“Abu Dhabi has been kind to me throughout my career and it’s just one of those places where things seem to come together. Players have that sometimes on tour; you find courses and tournaments where various elements fall into place and it helps you find your rhythm — Abu Dhabi feels like a home away from home.
“Hopefully I can make some early running and be in contention going down the last few holes.”
Kaymer, the towering German who was the Championship’s first triple winner, is equally keen to rekindle past National Course glories. In 2008, the then 24-year-old shot an aggregate 15 under par in a pulsating wire-to-wire victory — his maiden European Tour title. After finishing second to Casey a year later, Kaymer made it two wins in three attempts in 2010 with a nail-biting one-shot victory over England’s Ian Poulter.
The German’s crowning Abu Dhabi glory, however, came two years ago. With two-time winners Kaymer and Casey both chasing an historic Abu Dhabi hat-trick, it was the Dusseldorf-born wunderkid who emerged victorious. Kaymer posted an aggregate four-round score of 24 under par to set a new — and still unsurpassed — record Championship score.
Kaymer’s scintillating form left him eight shots clear of current world number one, Rory McIlroy.
With McIlroy headlining this year’s championship, the man Kaymer displaced as the world number two immediately after claiming an historic third championship, Tiger Woods, is also emirate-bound.
“The field in Abu Dhabi is always so strong — that’s one of the reasons my three titles mean so much to me,” said Kaymer. “You know you’ll always have to be at your very best to come out on top. Rory and Tiger are not the only guys eyeing a win and if I can rediscover my past form on the National Course I’ll be in with a shout.”
Championship tickets are available via the event’s official website — www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com — as well as online at www.timeouttickets.com.
Customer service can be contacted through the ITP toll-free hotline 800 4669 or, for international visitors, +971 4 444 3459. Tickets can also be bought at the gate throughout the championship.