Right on course
Sky Sports talks with Chris Card, the Group General Manager of Abu Dhabi Golf Club, host course of this week's hotly-anticipated Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Last Updated: 14/01/13 4:00pm
Sky Sports: Are you happy with the condition of the course?
CC: The course is in absolutely spectacular condition. I'd like to think that this is one of, if not the best, conditioned course the tour professionals play all year - that's certainly the feedback we've been getting from the players who have already been out on the course practising over the past few days. As a Troon-managed facility, the management team here at Abu Dhabi Golf Club takes pride in our ability to deliver a championship ready venue all-year-round. We are lucky to have an ownership group in TDIC that supports our endeavours wholeheartedly. The greens this week in particular are magnificent, we'll have them running fast and true - we can't really ask for much more than that. I think the players will really enjoy it and put on a great show for us all this week.
Sky Sports: The total yardage is listed as 7,600 which obviously is very long. Will you be moving any tees up during tournament week?
CC: We have actually added a bit of length to the course, believe it or not. We've pushed the 1st tee and the 10th tee back and enlarged some of the greens. The reason for making the greens 'bigger' is to re-introduce space on the greens that has been lost due to mowing patterns over the years, which has allowed us to create some new pin positions for the event.
Sky Sports: Have any of this week's field had any practice rounds at the course over the winter?
CC: Yes, we get a few of the guys out here for warm-weather training - the climate is obviously a big draw for them at this time of year. Golf in Abu Dhabi ambassador, Matteo Manassero, has been practising a lot in the build-up. He played well last year and is meticulous in his preparation, so I'd expect something similar from him again this week. He's also been out at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club - another Troon-managed facility, just a few miles down the road.
Sky Sports: Does the course suit a particular sort of player and what are its biggest challenges?
CC: Well, you mention the length and it certainly helps to be long off the tee. Paul Casey is a multiple winner around this golf course and he is one of the longer hitters on Tour. Robert Rock, defending champion, can also put it out there, whilst Rory has been runner-up the last two years and we all know how he hits off the tee! Having said that, length isn't everything; Martin Kaymer put a premium on accuracy whilst winning here three times, plus the greens are firm and fast this week, which will make it tricky, so you need to be on song with the flat stick.
Sky Sports: What would be your idea of the winning score?
CC: Well, typically the winning score has always been fairly low - 20-under par used to be the benchmark, but that changed last year when Robert won with 13-under.We grew the rough up last year and that obviously had an impact on the scores, but it's not quite as high this year. So, my guess would be somewhere in the middle of -20 and -13....I'll go for 17. One thing we can be sure of is a fantastic week of golf that will make for a brilliant spectacle.