(Reuters) - British Open champion Phil Mickelson makes a rare European Tour outing this week when he competes in the $2.7 million HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship.
The first event of the tour’s annual Middle East swing, which also includes the Qatar Masters and Dubai Desert Classic, starts on Thursday and features Mickelson and three other golfers from the world’s top 10 - Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.
American left-hander Mickelson, ranked fifth in the world, will be making his second appearance in Abu Dhabi having tied for 37th place in 2011.
Twelve months ago Welshman Jamie Donaldson claimed the biggest tournament victory of his career, eclipsing a strong field including McIlroy and 14-times major winner Tiger Woods to lift the coveted Falcon Trophy.
“It was a great win last year,” Donaldson told the tour website (www.europeantour.com). “Going back anywhere that you’ve played and won before is really good.”
World number three Stenson will be the highest-ranked player in this week’s field.
Northern Irishman McIlroy, ranked seventh, has only been outside the top-11 once in six previous appearances but the player with the best record in Abu Dhabi is Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer.
German Kaymer has won the Falcon Trophy three times in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Writing by Tony Jimenez; editing by Josh Reich