Johnson, currently the No. 3 ranked player in the world, will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of friend and Ryder Cup team-mate Rickie Fowler, who won the event in 2016.
And ahead of his debut in the region, Johnson admitted that a glowing endorsement of Abu Dhabi Golf Club from both Fowler and Rory McIlroy helped influence his decision.
“I’m really excited about coming to Abu Dhabi, obviously I’ve never played in the Middle East so I’m looking forward to playing at the HSBC Championship,” Johnson told Sport360. “I’m looking forward to getting in, going round the city and checking it out.
“I’ve only heard good things about Abu Dhabi Golf Club, the couple of guys that I’ve talked to – they really like the course. Obviously Rickie likes it, he won their last time. I also talked to Rory and he really likes it too. They said that I would enjoy it so I’m looking forward to coming and playing.”
While Johnson is visiting the UAE for the first time, his coach Claude Harmon knows the UAE well having opened the Butch Harmon School of Golf in Dubai in 2009.
“Claude’s actually going to come with me to Abu Dhabi,” Johnson explained. “Butch opened a school down in South Florida where I live so I spend a lot of time there with Claude if I can’t get out to see Butch, who’s out in Vegas most of the time.”
Johnson has enjoyed an outstanding year in 2016, punctuated by wins in the BMW Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the U.S. Open – his first Major triumph – as well as victory with Team USA at the Ryder Cup earlier this month.
The 32-year-old did suffer disappointment as Rory McIlroy pipped him to the post to win the FedEx Cup but Johnson prefers to focus on the positives and is hopeful of starting on a high in Abu Dhabi.
“Obviously going into my final round I was in a great position to win the FedEx Cup,” Johnson reflects. “But I was just a little bit off and that golf course is very difficult.
“I missed a bunch of fairways by a yard but those fairways were narrow and the rough was deep – it was a very tough course to play if you weren’t on the fairway.
“I was in control of my own destiny, but I wasn’t upset about it – obviously Rory deserved it, he went in and won it all.
“I still had a great year this year so next year I hopefully want to continue the momentum and continue the success. I’ve still got a lot of room from improvement – hopefully we can have an even better year.”
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