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Paul Casey hails the "HSBC effect"
January 24, 2012

Leading golfer Paul Casey is predicting a dazzling future for golf in the Middle East after this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship was officially revealed as the strongest tournament ever staged in the region.

Statisticians from the Official World Golf Rankings have confirmed that the field for the tournament makes it the strongest to line up in the Middle East and possibly the second-highest ranked stand-alone event in the history of the European Tour.

The confirmations of the field, led by current world number one Luke Donald, former world number ones Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods, and Martin Kaymer and reigning Major champions Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke has guaranteed, barring any late enforced withdrawals, that it will be the highest ranked event staged in the Middle East. 

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship runs from 26 to 29 January at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and former winner Casey, who misses out with a shoulder injury, believes the tournament can help take the sport to a new level in the region.

He said: "There's still a way to go but there's no reason why golf in the Middle East can't reach the heights of Asia. This year's field for Abu Dhabi is sensational and would not be out of place in a major so why not?

"Over the past seven years we've seen the HSBC Champions event grow into the most significant golf tournament in Asia and be awarded World Golf Championships status and everything is in place for a similar success story in the Middle East if things continue at this pace".

For HSBC, who became tournament partners of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) in 2010, the quality of the field is particularly pleasing, because according to its sponsorship chief, the potential to develop an already successful event was part of what attracted them to get involved.

HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship Giles Morgan said: "We said from the outset that we wanted to work with the ADTA make this the best tournament in the region and a world-class golf event, because that in itself is a metaphor for the HSBC business. ADTA had done an excellent job, but what we try to do with our business partners is to help take them to new heights and we've been able illustrate this through our investment as sponsorship partners in Abu Dhabi.

"The next objective is to play our role in the staging of another successful event and then work on making sure this investment results in long-term, sustainable growth of the sport in the region."

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship could even have made history for the European Tour. Had Casey not suffered an unfortunate snowboarding accident in Colorado this winter and withdrawn from the field, the event projected to be the Tour's strongest ever tournament outside the Majors and WGC events.

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