2011 kicks off for real in Abu Dhabi

Published 20/01/2011 12:06:39

The tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month may have been the first tournament of the year, but you get the sense that the 2011 season will only really get going this week with the start of the Abu Dhabi Championship.

For starters the hit-about in Hawaii was restricted to just the 33 PGA Tour winners of 2010, a sort of extended parade of Champions to bring the curtain down on 2010 rather than open up 2011.

However, out in the desert this week is a much wider field and a sense that the competition for honours really starts now.

All four of last year's Major Championship winners are present - Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell, and Martin Kaymer (the latter two the Joint winners of the 2010 European Tour Golfer of the Year award) as well as the top European talent around today.

World number one Lee Westwood (11 weeks and counting) will be there as well as the likes of Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Pádraig Harrington and Ian Poulter.

It all adds to the competitive nature of the field and one that is hard to predict - though McDowell's record breaking final round at Hawaii last week (yet still not good enough for a play-off place) suggests the Irishman is carrying his excellent form of last year into this and those keeping track of the latest golf scores should keep an eye on his performances.

Elsewhere Rory McIlroy is slowly working his way up the leader board in this tournament - he was 11th here in 2008, 5th in 2009 and 3rd last year, although the Livescores Goalwire suggests he'll have to put a real shift in if he is to repeat that feat.

Defending champion Martin Kaymer and World number nine Paul Casey are also worth backing as they have each won the title twice over the last four years.


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