The top two stars in golf not named Tiger Woods will begin their 2014 season at the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi, teeing off late Wednesday night in the eastern United States. Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, who spent their week engaging in the typically unusual promo events at these overseas HSBC tourneys, will play together through the first two rounds in Abu Dhabi.
Mickelson and McIlroy are set to tee off at 10:40 p.m. ET on Wednesday, playing with Jamie Donaldson, last year's winner here, as the third member of their group. Mickelson stayed home on the PGA Tour this week last season, opting to tee it up at the Humana Challenge in Palm Springs.
But Phil, who said he'll alter and pare down his schedule with an eye on the U.S. Open, opted to return to the middle east to kickstart his 2014 campaign. He'll be back stateside next week for his hometown stop at Torrey Pines. Tiger Woods, who began his 2013 rollercoaster here last season with the first of five rules controversies, is not in attendance and will begin his season at Torrey.
McIlroy, who won his first event as a pro at the Dubai Desert Classic, is happy to have a new year and fresh slate ahead of him. Last season was a disaster, beginning with his switch to Nike and the laser light show during the Euro Tour's swing through the Middle East at the start of their season. The final months of the year were a bit kinder to Rory, who seemed to find his form during the silly season events. He played well in a series of stops in Asia during the fall, and then finally got on the board with a win at the Australian Open by sinking a putt on the last to edge Adam Scott by a stroke. Rory said those last few months were a boost to his confidence, and that he had found his form. Now he begins the new year hoping to reboot and forget about a wasted 2013.
In addition to Phil and Rory, this Euro Tour event also has Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, and Martin Kaymer in attendance. It's probably a better field, just at the top, than the annual PGA Tour stop in Palm Springs (even with Bill Clinton's rejuvenation of the Bob Hope Classic).
Golf Channel will have coverage for the U.S. audience, coming on the air at 4 a.m. Thursday morning and carrying the broadcast until 8 a.m. That means Phil and Rory, who should finish around 3 a.m., will not be featured in the first round coverage but they will be in front of the cameras early Friday in the States. Donald, Stenson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and Paul Casey are some of the bigger names who will get coverage on Thursday. You should also be able to watch online through GolfChannel's LiveExtra streaming service which simulcasts their daily lineup. Sky Sports also has streaming of the Euro Tour available with a subscription.
Here's the full tee sheet for Wednesday night's/Thursday's first round in Abu Dhabi. All times are ET.
First wave off No. 1:
|10:20 p.m.||Marco CRESPI||Fabrizio ZANOTTI||Adrian OTAEGUI|
|10:30 p.m.||Carlos DEL MORAL||Grégory HAVRET||Soren HANSEN|
|10:40 p.m.||Seve BENSON||Robert DINWIDDIE||Alexander LEVY|
|10:50 p.m.||Michael CAMPBELL||Thomas AIKEN||Garth MULROY|
|11:00 p.m.||Julien QUESNE||Rafa CABRERA-BELLO||Marc WARREN|
|11:10 p.m.||François CALMELS||Tyrrell HATTON||John PARRY|
|11:20 p.m.||Thomas PIETERS||Andy SULLIVAN||Ricardo SANTOS|
|11:30 p.m.||José-Filipe LIMA||Steve WEBSTER||Sihwan KIM|
|11:40 p.m.||Matthew NIXON||Romain WATTEL||Chris DOAK|
|11:50 p.m.||Damien MCGRANE||JB HANSEN||Shiv KAPUR|
First wave off No. 10:
|10:20 p.m.||Chris WOOD||Jeev Milkha SINGH||Marcus FRASER|
|10:30 p.m.||Martin KAYMER||Sergio GARCIA||Matteo MANASSERO|
|10:40 p.m.||Rory MCILROY||Phil MICKELSON||Jamie DONALDSON|
|10:50 p.m.||Padraig HARRINGTON||Joost LUITEN||Branden GRACE|
|11:00 p.m.||Peter UIHLEIN||Darren CLARKE||Robert ROCK|
|11:10 p.m.||Brett RUMFORD||Morten Ørum MADSEN||Dawie VAN DER WALT|
|11:20 p.m.||Shane LOWRY||Ross FISHER||Stephen GALLACHER|
|11:30 p.m.||Mark FOSTER||Simon DYSON||Jamie MCLEARY|
|11:40 p.m.||Maximilian KIEFFER||Graeme STORM||Matthew BALDWIN|
|11:50 p.m.||Ahmed ALMUSHARREKH||Adrien SADDIER||Emiliano GRILLO|
Second wave off No. 1:
|2:35 a.m.||Wade ORMSBY||Hennie OTTO||Magnus A CARLSSON|
|2:45 a.m.||Paul MCGINLEY||Tommy FLEETWOOD||Thorbjørn OLESEN|
|2:55 a.m.||Miguel Angel JIMÉNEZ||Peter HANSON||Paul CASEY|
|3:05 a.m.||Luke DONALD||Henrik STENSON||Thomas BJÖRN|
|3:15 a.m.||Paul LAWRIE||Robert KARLSSON||Thongchai JAIDEE|
|3:25 a.m.||Colin MONTGOMERIE||José María OLAZÁBAL||Bernd WIESBERGER|
|3:35 a.m.||Kiradech APHIBARNRAT||Marcel SIEM||Alvaro QUIROS|
|3:45 a.m.||Michael HOEY||Søren KJELDSEN||George COETZEE|
|3:55 a.m.||Oliver FISHER||Andrea PAVAN||Richard GREEN|
|4:05 a.m.||Victor RIU||Kristoffer BROBERG||Eddie PEPPERELL|
|4:15 a.m.||Daan HUIZING||Gareth MAYBIN||Johan CARLSSON|
Second wave off No. 10:
|2:35 a.m.||Simon THORNTON||Jbe KRUGER||Kevin PHELAN|
|2:45 a.m.||Justin WALTERS||Raphaël JACQUELIN||Edoardo MOLINARI|
|2:55 a.m.||Peter LAWRIE||Jorge CAMPILLO||Wen-yi HUANG|
|3:05 a.m.||Jin JEONG||Thomas LEVET||Pablo LARRAZÁBAL|
|3:15 a.m.||David HOWELL||Eduardo DE LA RIVA||Darren FICHARDT|
|3:25 a.m.||Anthony WALL||David HORSEY||Mikko ILONEN|
|3:35 a.m.||Niclas FASTH||Peter WHITEFORD||Brooks KOEPKA|
|3:45 a.m.||Danny WILLETT||Craig LEE||Alejandro CAÑIZARES|
|3:55 a.m.||Nacho ELVIRA||Paul WARING||Brandon STONE|
|4:05 a.m.||Gaganjeet BHULLAR||Ricardo GONZALEZ||Richard BLAND|
|4:15 a.m.||Lee SLATTERY||Gary STAL||Tom LEWIS|