Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

10 unforgettable moments from 10-year history of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship

The 10th edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship tees off Thursday morning and ahead of the action, John McAuley looks back at some of the tournament’s most memorable moments.
The Padraig Harrington group walks through rain and hail stones which halted the tournament on the opening day on January 9, 2009. Stephen Lock / The National
The Padraig Harrington group walks through rain and hail stones which halted the tournament on the opening day on January 9, 2009. Stephen Lock / The National

The 10th edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship tees off Thursday morning with the opening round of the four-day event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Ahead of the action, we take a look back at some of the tournament’s most memorable moments.

2007WING SHOTS

Debuted the previous year, Henrik Stenson stamped his mark on the Etihad Airways ‘Swing on the Wing’. The Swede followed Paul Casey and Ian Poulter by climbing onto the wing of an Eithad A330, although he offered a considerable increase in propulsion. By blasting his ball 721 yards, Stenson set a new Asian long-drive record.

2009 – ALL HAIL THE DESERT

Traditionally seen as the perfect, warm-weather start to the season, the European Tour’s top professionals were sent scurrying for cover under palm trees. An impromptu hailstorm during the first round halted play for two hours, blanketing the National Course in white. For a brief time, Abu Dhabi had been transformed into Aspen.

2009 – AMATEUR MISTAKE

Having driven into the rough on the seventh hole of his first round, Henrik Stenson retrieved what turned out to be the wrong ball. The Srixon he played was someone else’s, left there from the previous day’s pro-am. Cue a two-shot penalty. Stenson would go on to miss the cut.

2011 TRIAL BY TV

Padraig Harrington finished the first round as leader, but he did not return the next day. Failing to replace his ball on the seventh green after inadvertently moving it a fraction, he should have incurred a two-shot penalty but instead signed for a 65. He was disqualified when an eagle-eyed television viewer called the European Tour and informed an official.

2012 – CULTURE CLUB

It was not your usual warm-up. Making his tournament debut, Tiger Woods took part in the customary pre-event photo call, but this was one with a difference. The 14-time major champion, the week’s headline act, was taken through a traditional ‘ayala’ dance by a group of Emiratis. Looking slightly bemused, for once Woods was marching to someone else’s beat.

2012 – THREE TIMES A CHARM

To happen once is something special, twice pretty astounding, but a third time? Spectators camped out at the par-3 12th hole were treated to fireworks, with Sergio Garcia and Jose Manuel Lara each registering a hole-in-one there during their first rounds. Then, on Sunday, Graeme McDowell repeated the feat. A trio of aces – extraordinary.

2012 ROBERT THE ROCK STAR

Having finished the third round in the lead, Robert Rock discovered he would be paired with Tiger Woods for the final day and conceded: “I’m not sure how much sleep I’ll get.” Little matter, as the unheralded Englishman held off the golf great to seal the title. Then 121st in the world standings, Rock remains the tournament’s lowest-ranked winner.

2013 – PLANE SAILING

Jason Dufner, the world No 11, arrived for his Abu Dhabi debut without regular caddie, Kevin Baile, who was unable to travel. So up stepped Brian Mullen, an Etihad Airways pilot, to fill the void. “He didn’t fall over, drop anything or once give me the wrong club,” Dufner said afterwards. It was faint praise, but Mullen was on cloud nine.

2013 – TIGER TROUBLE

A characteristic back-nine rally seemed to have saved Tiger Woods from the cut, but then disaster struck. The American had taken what turned out to be an incorrect drop on the fifth hole of his second round and thus incurred a two-stroke penalty. He found out only once the 18 holes were complete. It was Woods’s first missed cut in a regular European Tour event.

2014 – BREAKING THE RULES

Being golf’s shining light presumably leaves little time to spend getting acquainted with the game’s regulations. Rory McIlroy certainly wished he had, though, after he was denied the title by dint of a two-stroke penalty incurred during his third round. It was the second time in three years he missed out on the hardware because of a rules infraction.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Updated: January 14, 2015 04:00 AM

Most Popular