Four of the world’s best golfers went “back to school” today as the new 2019 rules came into play for the first European Tour event of the year in Abu Dhabi.
Seven years in the making, the new rules are designed to make the sport faster and more straightforward to play.
Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson wasted no time in swotting up on the exciting new changes.
Key rule changes include players allowed to putt with the flagstick in, the time to search for a lost ball being reduced from five minutes to three, drops to be taken from knee height rather than shoulder height, plus a recommendation that no stroke should take longer than 40 seconds.
As the first European Tour event of the season, all eyes will be on the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA as the new rules come into play for the first time.
“It’s a really memorable tournament for me,” said Fleetwood, looking to win the title for a third straight year. “It’s always a really special time of year as everything is up for grabs and, as ever, the strength of field here in Abu Dhabi is something else. With the new rule changes, it will be a fascinating start to 2019.
Koepka added: “Last year was a huge year for me, winning both the US Open and the PGA Championship, so I can’t wait to kick on into 2019 as my game is coming around nicely. The new rule changes for 2019 should also encourage more people to get involved in the sport.”