Shinkwin, Foos and Emirati Thabet Win Qualifying Sections to Gain Entry Into 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Presented by EGA
European Tour professional Callum Shinkwin from England fires stunning 63 to win pre-qualifying tournament.
Leading Emirati Amateur golfer Saif Thabet conquers Yas Links to make championship debut next week
Challenge Tour professional Dominic Foos from Germany also qualifies as best UAE Resident
The qualifier for the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA was held on Sunday 6th January and Monday 7th January at Yas Links on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. The tournament produced three qualifiers for the main Championship taking place 16th – 19th January 2019: the overall winner, and the best performing Emirati Amateur and UAE Resident.
The leading Emirati Amateur was Saif Thabet, from Abu Dhabi, who carded 2 over par in both rounds on the first day, including a birdie on the final hole to make the cut and secure qualification. Windier conditions on the second day led to a tougher round, but he finished strongly with birdies on the final two holes. This was Saif’s first opportunity to qualify for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, as he had to miss last year’s pre-qualifying tournament because of National Service.
Saif has played golf since he was a child, and was a member of the UAE team which recently won the 2018 GCC Golf Championship in Oman. Currently an amateur, he nevertheless harbours ambitions to turn professional and sees participation in the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA as a key part of his programme to achieve that ambition: “I can’t wait till next week and I get the chance to compete with some of the world’s top golfers at one of the world’s top golfing events,” he says. “I’m feeling pretty good about it, my putting was hot this week, it’s obviously going to be tough out there, but I’m relishing the challenge. It’s all about knowing how to handle the pressure, and making sure that your mind doesn’t get cluttered with unnecessary thoughts. Next week will provide the ideal opportunity to test my ability to do this, and hopefully advance my career.”
The tournament took the form of two 18 hole rounds played on the first day by 72 players, with a final round on the second day played by the 32 players who made the cut. The tournament was won by Englishman Callum Shinkwin, who recorded an overall score of 18 under par, including a stunning 9 under in the afternoon round of the first day.
Watford-born Shinkwin is in his sixth year as a professional on the European Tour, and returns to Abu Dhabi to compete in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA for the third time. He commented: “It’s great to be back in Abu Dhabi and I’m thrilled to have got through the qualifier to be able to compete once more in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA. I’d not had much experience of Yas Links: it’s a challenging course, but also very beautiful, and it’s nice to be able to play in sunshine and warmth after weeks in the cold and rain of Europe. Now I’m looking forward to turning my attention to the Championship itself, one of the most popular tournaments on the circuit.”
The best performing UAE Resident, with a first day score of 8 under par and an overall score of 5 under par, was German Dominic Foos, who has lived in Dubai for almost four years. A professional on the Challenge Tour, and its youngest ever winner in his first season at the age of 17, Foos is looking to make the step up to the European Tour. He started playing golf aged 3, was a scratch golfer at the age of 12 and represented Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup in 2014 just before turning professional.
Commenting on his qualification, Foos said: “I did good on the first day, but the second day was windier and the pin positions were tougher. I’m very pleased to have got through, though, and I am really looking forward to competing in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA. I’ll be happy whatever the draw comes out with, but it would be great to play with Dustin Johnson, because he’s a cool dude.”
H.E. Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA is not much more than a week away and everyone is getting excited as it approaches, not least myself. The field is one of the strongest ever to have graced Abu Dhabi, in keeping with our efforts to offer residents and visitors the best sporting events all year round; so our tournament qualifiers will be in the best possible company and will never have a better chance to test their skills against so many of the world’s best golfers. I would like to congratulate all three of them for coming through the stern challenge of Yas Links and wish them every success next week.”
The fourteenth edition of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA will welcome not only 132 players including defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, but will also enjoy the elevated status of becoming a Rolex Series event, boasting increased prize money of US$7 million. Former World No.1 Dustin Johnson, current World No. 1 and PGA Player Of the Year Brooks Koepka and former Open Champion Henrik Stenson have also confirmed their participation. Hosted by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the Championship will be played 16th – 19th January 2019 over the National Course of the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Tickets for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA can be purchased here.