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Rory returns to action at Abu Dhabi HSBC

Preview – European Tour — Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – Abu Dhabi Golf Club – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates –

An extra buzz surrounds the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship this week with the 2015 debut of five of the Top 12 players in the Official World Golf Ranking including top-ranked Rory McIlroy.

Abu Dhabi Country club hosts the 72-hole tournament. The par-72 layout stretches to around 7,600 yards and produces low scores. The course features a classic desert layout with plenty of water hazards. The 567-yard, par-5 18th hole could decide the tournament.

McIlroy, who won the European Tour’s Race to Dubai title last season, is the favorite to win this week — he has three runner-up finishes at the tournament. But, he has plenty of competition including former U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, second-ranked Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler and last year’s U.S Open and Players champion Martin Kaymer.

Stenson beat out Rory in the final head-to-head meeting at the DP World Tour Championship in November.

Past champions at this event and venue include Kaymer (2008, 2010 and 2011). Each could factor this week. The champion this week earns the “Falcon” trophy. Golf Channel has television coverage all week.

BETTORS: McIlroy (4-to-1) tops the betting picks, according to www.skybet.com. But, consider Kaymer at 14-1 and Charl Schwarztel at 33-1. Schwartzel lost last week in a playoff, but should continue his good form here.

Other Golf News:

  • Rory, Rose and Stenson are the Top 3 favorites at Ladbrokes.com to capture the 2015 Race To Dubai title come November.
  • Luke Donald is skipping the start of the European Tour 2015 calendar season to compete in the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii this week.
  • Rory and Phil Mickelson finished T-2 in Abu Dhabi last season at 14-under and just a stroke back of the champion.