‘The Big Easy’ returns

ABU DHABI: Ernie Els, a four-time major winner and one of golf’s most popular personalities, is heading back to the United Arab Emirates’ capital for his second shot at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship from 15th – 18th January at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

With a win in the 2005 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and a hat-trick of Omega Dubai Desert Classic titles (1994, 2002, 2005) under his belt, ‘The Big Easy’ says he’s ready to complete the ‘Gulf Swing’ with an Abu Dhabi victory on the challenging National Course.

“I’ve always felt at home playing in the Gulf,” said South Africa’s World Golf Hall of Fame member. “I won my first European Tour event in the UAE way back in 1994 and since then have loved playing in the region and enjoying some success in the big tournaments.

“I’m just one Falcon Trophy short of winning every ‘Desert Swing’ title – and I hope to rectify that next month in Abu Dhabi. That would be a great achievement, and is an ambition of mine, particularly given it’s the Championship’s 10th anniversary.” One of only six golfers to win both the US Open and The Open Championship twice in his career, Els joins four of the world’s top 10, including Rory McIlroy (one), Henrik Stenson (two), Justin Rose (six) and Rickie Fowler (10), for the Championship’s landmark event and a cut of the US $2.7 million prize fund.

The six-foot four gentle giant could only finish joint 39th in his first attempt at Championship glory in 2013, carding an overall score of two under par in a year that saw Welshman Jamie Donaldson clinch the Falcon Trophy.

HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, Giles Morgan, said, “Ernie is one of the legends of modern golf and his instantly familiar style has graced the game for many years. With some exciting new names at the top of golf’s global leaderboard it will be fascinating to see who emerges on top in what promises to be a thrilling battle to kick-start the new season.” The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship 2015 is presented by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. Tickets and tailored packages are available via the event’s official website. Guests staying at any Abu Dhabi hotel over the Championship period enter free and all those who book packages will enjoy a complimentary clinic with a world top 30 player.