Golfers to Watch in Abu Dhabi
Koepka returns to Abu Dhabi for the first time since 2014. He made an early departure that year, shooting 77-73 to finish below the cut line. Now, though, he’ll try to live up to his billing as a three-time major winner.
The two-time major champion once ruled Abu Dhabi, winning three times in his first five appearances. He remains the event’s only three-time champion, but has been inconsistent since then, with three top-six finishes but also three outside the top 25.
Kaymer, 34, will tee it up for the first time since last year’s European Tour finale in Dubai, where he tied for 55th in a 60-man field. It was a frustrating 2018 all around for Kaymer, who sat out four weeks in the spring with wrist problems and missed 12 cuts in 23 starts worldwide upon his return.
An emotional victory at his native South African Open helped bring Oosthuizen’s 2018 to a satisfying close, separating himself on the final day to become just the sixth man to put his name on both the Open trophy and the British Open’s Claret Jug.
Oosthuizen, 36, also tied for seventh a week later at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, giving him four top-10 finishes worldwide in his final five starts of the year. He’s played Abu Dhabi before, earning a share of second in 2009 behind Paul Casey, but this is his first visit since 2011.
The 45-year-old Englishman showed he’s still a factor by winning the Nedbank Challenge last November, out dueling Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia on the final day to end a three-and-a-half-year victory drought that was his longest since a career slump in the mid-2000s. It was his 24th European Tour win.
Westwood shared runner-up honors in his 2008 debut at Abu Dhabi, but with just one top-15 finish there since. Over the past three years, he’s sandwiched a tie for eighth in 2017 between a pair of missed cuts.
One of just a handful of players who have competed every year since the tournament began, Stenson nonetheless remains in quest of his first victory at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. In fact, until last year’s debut of the NBO Oman Open it was the only Middle East event that Stenson hasn’t won.