LONDON (Reuters) - Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler will headline a strong field for the European Tour’s lucrative Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January 2016.
The trio -- ranked first, third and fifth in the world respectively -- will be joined by Sweden’s seventh-ranked Henrik Stenson for the $2.7 million tournament, the first event and richest prize on the Tour’s “Desert Swing”.
Texan Spieth, 22, is excited about making his Arabian debut as he attempts to build on a breakthrough 2015 which saw him win his first two majors, become world number one, and clinch the PGA Tour’s season-long FedEx Cup.
“I am looking forward to coming to Abu Dhabi, especially after Rickie told me about what a fantastic event it is,” said Speith, who won the 2015 Masters and US Open.
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy hopes to begin the year strongly in his quest to regain the number one spot and go one better than his four runner-up places in eight years in Abu Dhabi.
“Abu Dhabi always brings an outstanding player field, and with Jordan and Rickie competing in January, this will be a superb test for me to start off the 2016 season,” said the four-time major champion.
”I’ve come close in Abu Dhabi several times now, so I’ll be 100 percent ready for January’s challenge.”
Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), which owns the Championship, hopes the presence of the game’s bright young stars will attract increasingly bigger and more demographically diverse crowds.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is scheduled for Jan. 21-24 and will be followed by the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (Jan. 27-30) and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (Feb. 4-7).
Reporting by Rob Hodgetts, editing by Alan Baldwin