16 Jan 2020

Hottest talents making their Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship debuts

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA is renowned for having the ‘Best of the Best’ playing field and this year is no different in the Desert Swing Opener. World No.1 Brooks Koepka, two-time Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Tommy Fleetwood and reigning Open champion Shane Lowry are a few of the biggest stars competing on the famous National Course this week. However, there are also some spectacular prospects and PGA Tour making their debut in this Rolex Series event that you should keep an eye on this week and certainly for the future. Here are six prospects Scott Grayston thinks you should look out for:

Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay 

Patrick Cantlay was the No.1 golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for a record-breaking 55 weeks so shouldered huge expectations when turning professional in 2012. However, after some tragic personal experiences and injuries he’s started to prove his talent the last couple of years, making 57 starts in the U.S – 40 of which he finished in the top 25, 20 inside the top ten as well as winning on two occasions at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open and last year’s Memorial Tournament. He’s also a man for the big occasion, making two top ten finishes in the Masters and PGA Championship last season which has helped him rise to sixth in the Official Golf World Ranking. This week is his first time competing on the European Tour and he came into the event as joint-favourite with Tommy Fleetwood which signifies his quality on the golf course. 

Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland was victorious in the Hero Challenge at Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday and looks destined for more success this season. Like Cantlay, the Norwegian is a former amateur No.1 who announced his arrival on the golf scene last year by finishing as the highest-placed amateur at both the Masters (tied-32nd) and US Open (tied-12th). The 22 year old turned professional soon after and went on a record-breaking run on the PGA Tour during which he shot 19 straight rounds in the 60s. Definitely one to watch out for this week and in the future…

Zach Murray

Zach Murray

Zach Murray is a new kid on the block but looks to be a formidable talent. The 22 year old won the New Zealand Open and earned a coveted European Tour card via his second place finish on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit. This week in the UAE capital marks his Middle East and don’t be surprised if you see him up there on Sunday.

Joshua Hill

Josh Hill alongside Tommy Fleetwood

Dubai-born 15 year old Joshua Hill has been making all the headlines this last year after triumphing at the MENA Tour’s Al Ain Open in October, displacing one-time Japanese prodigy Ryo Ishikawa in the record books as the youngest winner of an Official World Golf Ranking event. The Englishman went on to seal the MENA Tour’s Order of Merit which secured his spot for next week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic after he won his place for this week by winning the Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Hill beat World No.1 Koepka in an eight-hole match and outdrove him on a couple of holes during their practice round on Monday which shows just how big a talent this towering teenager is.

Ahmad Skaik  

Ahmad Skaik sealed his spot in the Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship after finishing highest out of the Emiratis which earned him a European Tour debut this week. Although he’s been feeling under the weather prior to the event, it will be great to see one of the county’s top talents play with some of the world’s best players in the Desert Swing opener.


Lin Yuxin

Lin Yuxin

Lin Yuxin is a Chinese amateur who makes his debut this week with a prosperous career predicted. Lin, who is coached by our columnist Pete Cowen, won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship for the second time last September and he’s a player Cowen is very excited about. The coach recently said: “Lin’s impressive and will be competing at the Masters this year. He hits the ball a long way and he could be up there alongside Haotong Li as the leading Chinese players in the not-too-distant future.” It appears Chinese golf is booming with some fantastic up-and-coming players gracing the European Tour and the Desert Swing.

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