Justin Thomas is in Abu Dhabi for the first time
Justin Thomas is in Abu Dhabi for the first time Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, is broadening his horizons this season and is looking to get off to a flying start at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to kick off his campaign.

This is the American’s first trip out here and he is impressed with what he has seen so far — despite being inside the European Tour bio-bubble, to keep players and staff safe from the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m so excited to be here,” Thomas told reporters from Abu Dhabi Golf Club. “It is an event I have watched many times on TV back home in the States, and to be here is great. It is such a nice place and the course is unbelievable and in immaculate condition.”

Thomas is a former world No. 1 and picked up his 15th professional title at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational last August. He is now targeting No. 16 in Abu Dhabi and has been working hard during practice to get things just right in his pursuit of the Falcon Trophy.

“The course drives well and it is in great shape and the greens are soft,” he said. “I have been trying to figure out my lines to go for it this week, and hopefully we can get it right.”

Thomas has also been impressed with how the European Tour is allowing the tournament to feel as “normal” as it can be while still ensuring coronavirus protocols are enforced for the health and safety for all involved.

“Every sports organisation does things a little differently, and I guess it is tougher for the European Tour than the PGA as they have to travel from country to country,” he said. “But for the Tour to manage to put these events on is amazing. The bubble here is great, the facilities are great and the organisers are doing everything they can to make it feel as normal as they can. They have done a great job.”

Justin Thomas factfile

Born April 29, 1993 (age 27)
Louisville, Kentucky
Height 5ft 10in
Nationality American
Residence Jupiter, Florida
Turned professional 2013
Professional wins 15
Highest ranking 1 (May 13, 2018 — 5 weeks)
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 13
European Tour 3
Asian Tour 2
Other 2
Best results in major championships
Masters 4th — 2020
PGA Championship Won — 2017
US Open T8 — 2020
The Open Championship T11 — 2019