Dan Kirkwood, Tom Buchanan and Ahmed Al Musharrekh qualified via 18-holes at Saadiyat Beach last year. January’s just announced pre-qualifier is at Yas Links and will be played over 54 holes, matching the enhanced status of Abu Dhabi’s Desert Swing event.
By Kent Gray
The pathway to the European Tour’s upgraded $7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is finally clear for the region’s leading amateurs and teaching professionals, albeit a much steeper climb than a year ago.
What was initially slated as a 36-hole qualifier at Saadiyat Beach G.C. to double last season’s hole count has now been confirmed as a 54-hole event at Yas Links on Jan. 6-7 where the winner, leading Emirati amateur and top UAE-based player, either pro or amateur, will earn starts in the Jan. 16-19 European Tour event.
A maximum field a 72 will tee it up at Yas Links with 40 places reserved for professionals or amateurs (scratch handicap or better) resident in the UAE, plus eight spots for Emirati nationals registered with the Emirates Golf Federation. The remaining places will be filled by four amateurs from neighbouring GCC countries, plus as many as 20 international PGA professionals. All Players need to apply for a spot by Friday week, December 21.
You can find an entry form here.
Last season Al Ain professional Tom Buchanan won an 18-hole UAE PGA qualifier, Englishman Dan Kirkwood the amateur equivalent and Ahmed Al Musharrekh the Emirati spot at Saadiyat to qualify for the Desert Swing opener, which will be played for the 14th time this Jan. with a $4 million increase in prize-money and elevated Rolex Series status.
While all three comfortably missed the cut, Buchanan (+5) went on to achieve cult hero status with friends and family – “Buchanan’s Brigade” – tagging along for the giddy ride around The National course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Kirkwood finished +11 and Al Musharrekh +22 as Tommy Fleetwood went on to successfully defend the Falcon trophy.
The format of the pre-qualifying tournament will be two 18-hole rounds on Sunday, Jan.6 with shotgun starts at 7.15am and 12.45pm. The top 30 players, and ties, on the first day will make the cut for the third round on Monday, Jan, 7.
Professionals and amateurs with the requisite handicaps may apply to enter the pre-qualifying tournament by completing the entry form. Applications must be submitted on or before December 21 by emailing James Ibbetson at Yas Links ([email protected]). Successful applicants will be notified no later than Dec. 30, when the draw will be announced.
For Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA ticket information, click here.