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Vijay Singh tops field in Abu Dhabi

World number two Vijay Singh heads a strong field at this week's inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

World number six Sergio Garcia, number 10 Colin Montgomerie, number 11 Chris DiMarco and former British Open and U.S. PGA champion John Daly will also be chasing the first prize at the $2 million European Tour event.

The championship is the first of a three-week swing in the Gulf, preceding the Qatar Masters and the Dubai Desert Classic, a trio of tournaments which will feature nine of the world's top 12 players.

Local officials are delighted with the quality of competitors who will tee-off in Thursday's first round.

"With the list of top names who have confirmed their participation, this championship is set to be a very exciting event," Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, was quoted as saying on the European Tour's website.

Singh will be making his first appearance in the Gulf since 1993.

"I have heard good things about Abu Dhabi and the golf course and am looking forward to seeing it for myself," said the 42-year-old Fijian.

"With the calibre of players entered, it looks like it'll be a tough tournament, but that's how I like them," added the twice former U.S. PGA champion and winner of the 2000 U.S. Masters.

Singh enjoyed a spectacular season in 2004, winning nine times on the PGA Tour and dethroning Tiger Woods as world number one for a spell.

He had another good year in 2005, collecting three PGA Tour titles and another 15 top-10 finishes.

A total of 120 players will gather at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club for the latest tournament to offer Ryder Cup points.

Montgomerie and Garcia, first and third in the European points table, will be up against a probable Ryder Cup opponent in 35-year-old DiMarco.

"I haven't travelled outside the U.S. that often but I am really looking forward to coming to Abu Dhabi," said DiMarco, who has three PGA Tour wins to his credit.

"With so many good players, we are going to have a great tournament."



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