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Steve Sands - January 24, 2012

Steve Sands
Getty Images
RABAT, MOROCCO - MARCH 18: Nick Dougherty of England waits to tee off at the 17th during the first round of the Hassan II Golf Trophy at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam on March 18, 2010 in Rabat, Morocco. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)  - 

Sands is in Abu Dhabi this week to cover the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for Golf Channel. Tiger Woods will be grouped with Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds in Abu Dhabi and Sands feels that the tournament did World #2 Lee Westwood a service by not putting him in the middle of the chaos that is sure to surround Tiger, Luke, and Rory but especially Tiger in his first appearance in Abu Dhabi. Westwood will be able to focus on his game without too much fanfare.

The people at Abu Dhabi Golf Club reconstructed the clubhouse a few years ago to include a large falcon and the image of the clubhouse and falcon is now one of the most iconic on the European Tour.

With so many great players in the field this week, it has the feel of a huge event even though it is only January. In his opinion, he has felt that Abu Dhabi has been the unofficial start of the world golf season in large part because it always seems to fall during the bye week between the Championship Games and the Super Bowl. A lot of American media, including Golf Channel, are in Abu Dhabi this week and the presence of so many people in the world media gives the event an electricity that is unique at events around the world.