World No 1 Brooks Koepka says the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA provides him the perfect setting to make his comeback from injury.
The four-time major winner, 29, was on Monday night confirmed as the headline act for the January 16-19 event, with defending champion Shane Lowry, two-time winner Tommy Fleetwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter also announced.
Koepka has not played since injuring his knee during the second round at the CJ Cup on October 18. He slipped when leaving a tee box in South Korea and later withdrew upon the conclusion of his round.
The issue, the aggravation of an old injury, forced Koepka last week to formally withdraw from Tiger Woods’ United States team for next month’s Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia.
However, the American is looking to return in Abu Dhabi to kick-start what he hopes to be another fine season. This year, Koepka won three times, including a second successive PGA Championship – his fourth major in two years.
The 2020 event will mark his third competitive appearance at the National Course. He missed the cut on debut in 2014 before finishing tied-9th last January.
“It was great to return to Abu Dhabi earlier this year for the first time since 2014,” Koepka said. “Having last played there as a Challenge Tour graduate, I was able to return as a major champion and enjoy all the support of the amazing fans.
“I love getting back out there on the European Tour and I am delighted to be returning to Abu Dhabi this January. The tournament attracts many of the best players in the world, it’s on a world class course, has beautiful weather, so I think it is the perfect place to start the year after a longer than expected time away from the game due to injury.”
Koepka will have to wrestle the Falcon Trophy from Lowry, another major champion. The Irishman enjoyed a 2019 to remember also, set in motion by his one-shot victory in Abu Dhabi – his first win in three-and-a-half years.
Lowry went on to capture a first major, at the Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
“I have amazing memories of my time in Abu Dhabi earlier this year,” he said. “The manner in which I won the Falcon Trophy was a real catalyst for me and gave me a huge confidence boost going into 2019.
“I have no doubt about what an important part the victory in Abu Dhabi played in helping me go on to win the Open that summer. I can’t wait to get back there again in January to compete against so many of the world’s best players and, hopefully, defend my title.”
Fleetwood, meanwhile, is seeking to become only the second player after Martin Kaymer to win the tournament three times. The Englishman, now ranked world No 10, lifted the title in 2017 and 2018.
“The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA is definitely one of the most popular tournaments amongst the players and a personal favourite of mine,” he said. “Having won the championship twice, I feel very at home on the National Course and I hope I can take advantage of that again in January.
“I’ve grown to love playing in Abu Dhabi and I think that shows in my recent results, so fingers crossed I can get myself in contention again this year.”
DeChambeau, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, added: “I’m delighted to return for this year’s 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA. I relish the opportunity to test my game against so many of the best players and, as the championship kindly gave me an invite while I was still an amateur back in 2016 and just starting out on my golfing journey, Abu Dhabi is a special place for me.”
The tournament is the first of the eight Rolex Series events on the European Tour. Heading into its 15th year, it carries an increased prize fund of $7 million (Dh25.7m).