Christiaan Bezuidenhout will spearhead the South African quest at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
The exciting 2021 European Tour season will get under way with the first event of the year, where Lee Westwood will start his title defence of both the event and his Race to Dubai title.
The Englishman is joined by a host of big-name players set to highlight the week’s action, Bezuidenhout one of them hoping for more success after his impressive 2020.
The 26-year-old goes in search of a fourth Tour triumph and will be tested from the start, having been paired with Major champions Danny Willet and Martin Kaymer for the first two rounds.
The German is a three-time winner of the event in Abu Dhabi and will provide the ultimate competition in front of the iconic Falcon clubhouse.
Talented young duo Garrick Higgo and Wilco Nienaber will head into the start of the new year full of confidence and determination after enduring a breakthrough season.
Having won his first Tour title in Portugal last year, Higgo will be striving for more of the same this year, while the big-hitting Nienaber continues to edge his way closer to a maiden crown.
Higgo will play alongside Victor Dubuisson and Marc Warren on Thursday and Friday, while Nienaber will tee off in a group consisting of Laurie Canter and Romain Langasque.
George Coetzee and Justin Harding once again line up with big expectations for the year ahead. Both players are eyeing further success on Tour and a good start in Abu Dhabi will certainly remove any rust for the year ahead.
Coetzee has been paired with Nicholas Colsaerts and Joost Luiten, while Harding will go up against English duo Matthew Southgate and Ross McGowan.
Zander Lombard and Thomas Aiken are some early starters on Thursday, grouped together with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Haydn Porteous, Dean Burmester and Ashley Chesters.
Compleat Golfer playing editor Brandon Stone kickstarts another optimistic year on Tour and will battle David Lipsky and Alexander Bjorn at the start.
Richard Sterne and Justin Walters complete the South African contingent for the event.
Action gets under way at 5:30am on Thursday and will be live on SuperSport Golf (213).
18th hole this week ?
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 18, 2021