Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
2020 promises to be an exciting year on the European Tour with four rising stars hoping to make their mark this season. Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre, Erik van Rooyen and Matthias Schwab are all predicted to have a major impact at the Tour’s biggest tournaments.
The 27-year-old Frenchman stands six feet six inches and might be hard to miss this season – and not just for his towering height. He enjoyed a fine amateur career and represented France in the 2014 Eisenhower Trophy, where he was the joint-second lowest individual scorer behind Jon Rahm. In just his second season on the Challenge Tour, Perez finished 3rd in the Order of Merit which obtained him a place on the 2019 European Tour.
In September that year, Perez earned his first European Tour victory by winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews. He used all his knowledge of Scottish links golf, having lived in nearby Dundee since 2017. He then finished T-4 in November at the WGC-HSBC Champions at the Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, just four shots behind winner Rory McIlroy. He followed this up by a tied runner-up spot, alongside Erik van Rooyen and Matthias Schwab, at the Turkish Airlines Open, cementing his promise going in to this season. More recently, he received an invite to play in the 2020 Masters Tournament.
The 29-year-old South African graduated to the European Tour in 2018 after two victories saw him finish the season in third place on the Challenge Tour’s Order of Merit. After his graduation to the Tour, he excelled with five top-10 finishes earning him the 2018 Rookie of the Year award. He then really caught the eye by finishing in eighth place at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
In August he won his first European Tour title at the Scandinavian Invitation. Tied with Matthew Fitzpatrick after 71 holes, he showed his big tournament mentality by holding his nerve for a closing birdie to seal a one-stroke victory. He then tied for second at the Turkish Airlines Open in November. Definitely one to watch in 2020.
The 25-year-old Austrian ended his amateur career as the best European in the World Amateur Golf Rankings after a hugely successful time at Vanderbilt University where he was a two-time All-American. He helped guide Europe to victory in the Palmer Cup in 2016 before turning professional the following season. In November 2017 Schwab became one of 33 players to earn 2018 European Tour cards through Qualifying School.
In March he tied for fourth place at the Hero Indian Open and ended his rookie year 72nd on the Race to Dubai standings with seven top-10 finishes. On the 2019 European Tour, he finished second at the Porsche European Open, tied fourth at the Italian Open and lost in a playoff at the Turkish Airlines Open to end 17th in the 2019 Race to Dubai. In November he finished tied fourth at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. His upwards trajectory points to a maiden European Tour win in 2020.
The 23-year-old Scotsman enjoyed a fine amateur career by becoming the first player to win the Scottish Youths’ Championship and Scottish Boys’ Open Strokeplay Championship in the same year. He excelled in his first season as a professional by finishing inside the top 15 of the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2018 to earn a European Tour card.
He then burst on to the world scene in 2019 as he finished 11th in the Race to Dubai and picked up the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, after a year which included three runner-up finishes and a tie for sixth place on his Major Championship debut at The Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. He looks to have all the tools to claim his first victory on the European Tour in 2020.