World number one Dustin Johnson also confirmed for the tournament in January
Rory McIlroy is set to return to action at next year's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA (Jan 18-21), alongside world number one Dustin Johnson and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, who last week won the 2017 European Tour prize money in Dubai.
McIlroy endured an injury-plagued 2017 that saw him end the season winless. The former world number one is looking to get the new season off to a winning start on a course where he has fared well, twice finishing second.
“I am looking for a strong start in 2018 and I feel that Abu Dhabi is the perfect place to open my season’s campaign," McIlroy said.
"Having come really close here on more than one occasion, I will be completely focused on trying to win the coveted Falcon Trophy and getting myself back into the winners’ circle – that would be a real confidence boost to start the New Year.”
Dustin Johnson will also look bring the same sort of form to Abu Dhabi that has seen him reach number one on the world golf rankings.
“Abu Dhabi is great, it’s a fun course to play and I felt I played really well during my first appearance there, aside from my first day troubles with the putter of course," Johnson said.
"I am sure this year I’ll put myself in a good position to compete and hopefully I can go one better than 2017. Aside from the majors, 2017 has been a really good year for me winning a multitude of titles and hopefully Abu Dhabi can act as the perfect springboard for me in 2018.”
Abu Dhabi, the launch tournament of the now expanded 'Desert Swing' following the addition of Oman to the European Tour schedule, will also welcome American Ryder Cup star and Olympic Bronze Medallist, Matt Kuchar (making his debut), two-time championship winner Paul Casey and 2016 Open Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist, Henrik Stenson.
In a positive move for UAE golfers, this year the organising committee confirmed that it will re-introduce an 18 hole qualifying tournament to provide opportunities for local pros and amateurs to compete at the 2018 Championship.
Both male professionals and male amateur golfers with a handicap of scratch or better (as of 1st November 2017), will be invited to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Monday December 11 for their chance to qualify.
Two qualifying spots (one professional and one amateur) will be available for the two entrants who return the lowest 18 hole medal score together in their respective category.
If one or both of these two spots are not taken by an Emirati, then the highest ranked Emirati, professional or amateur, will also earn a place to play alongside some of the world’s best.
The 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA will run from January 18 – January 21 with Abu Dhabi Sports Council looking to top this year’s turnout of over 69,000 spectators.