ABU DHABI: American Rickie Fowler believes a season-opening win at January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship could be the watershed he needs to propel him towards his first Major.
The 25-year-old makes his UAE capital debut at the event’s 10th anniversary showing, joining an all-star cast that includes Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Matteo Manassero.
Fowler says a win in Abu Dhabi to tee-off the season will help to put him on the right path.
“Beginning my season in Abu Dhabi will be a fresh approach for me,” said Fowler. “I’m really very excited by it and the possibilities it might bring.
“I enjoy experiencing new tournaments and cultures, and this will be something different that I hope will get my campaign off to the best possible start. A big win against a very strong field will give me an early boost and plenty of confidence heading into the Majors later in the year.” Fowler has two victories to his name since turning professional in 2009. He won the Korea Open in 2011 to secure his first professional title and a year later took the Wells Fargo Championship, with Rory McIlroy finishing as runner-up on both occasions.
The world number nine said he’s looking forward to continuing his rivalry with his close friend McIlroy next year and that a battle for supremacy with the Northern Irishman and a share of the US$2.7 million prize purse in Abu Dhabi is an exceptional opportunity.
“The chance to play in Abu Dhabi together for the first time, and in the tournament’s tenth anniversary, is going to be pretty special,” Fowler said. “We’re great friends, but we love competing and giving everything when we’re up against each other. No matter where we are in the world, nothing is left on the course when we’re together.” Fowler enjoyed remarkable consistency this past season and was the only player to finish in the top-five at all four Major championships. He finished fifth at Augusta, second at the U.S. Open and the British Open, and third at the PGA Championship.
His impressive run of form means Fowler is only the third player after Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to finish in the top-five of all four grand slam events in the same year.
“Rickie is an amazing talent and we’re very excited to be welcoming him for our milestone event,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, TCA Abu Dhabi, which owns and organises the Championship.
“He is charismatic, is great to watch and with his sense of style and colourful outlook he’s synonymous with the next generation of golf. He’ll undoubtedly attract the crowds, and we can’t wait to see him go head-to-head with Rory McIlroy,” Al Dhaheri concluded.