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

In July 2023, Neil became just the 9th editor in Golf Monthly's 112-year history. Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he has also presented many Golf Monthly videos looking at all areas of the game from Tour player interviews to the rules of golf. 

Throughout his time with the brand he has also 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! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! 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: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons: PING Blueprint S (4&5), PING Blueprint T (6-PW) Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X