Players head 'back to school' in Abu Dhabi

Neil Tappin is in Abu Dhabi for the start of a competitive few weeks in the Middle East and he's been catching up with Geoff Ogilvy and Rory McIlroy ahead of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship which gets underway tomorrow

Geoff Ogilvy

For the world of golf, the last two months have been rather bizarre. Without a ball hardly being hit, the sport has demanded more column inches than ever before. And let's be honest, it hasn't all been positive.

Thankfully, with the Abu Dhabi Championship enticing the world's best players out of winter hibernation, the time has come to return our collective attention back to the golf. For the majority of the high profile players, this is their 'back to school week'. Unlike ours, their holiday period has ended not with snow and a broken transport system but in the sunshine of the Arabian Gulf. Faced with a picture perfect golf course and the exciting prospect of a new season, there's a buzz about this place. The clubhouse is filled with caddies, coaches and players wishing each other happy new year and layering on the sun tan lotion.

One man however who has already played and won this year is Geoff Ogilvy. I spent two hours in his company at the nearby Saadiyat Beach Golf Club as we talked golf instruction. Despite having just flown to Abu Dhabi from Pheonix (there's a 12 hours time difference between the two so it's midnight for him as we chat), the Aussie was relaxed and happy to open up about his game. And as I discovered, what this guy doesn't know about the golf swing isn't worth knowing.

Also on the Golf Monthly interview rota was Rory McIlory. Last year's number two informs me that after a brief three day shopping trip in New York, he's been in the Middle East making some changes to his swing. Risky? Possibly, but Rory's sights are set on the world's top five. And if he wins this week to make it in, the golfing world will have an altogether more positive story to kick-start the year.  

Where next?

Golf preview: Abu Dhabi Golf Championship preview Golf betting: Abu Dhabi Golf Championship betting guide Win: Golf competitions and prizes Equipment: New TaylorMade R9 SuperTri driver 

Neil Tappin
Neil Tappin

Neil has worked for Golf Monthly for over 15-years. Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. Neil is currently a 2-handicap golfer who has played the game for as long as he can remember. In his role at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: Titleist TSi3 Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X