Cape Town - It's onwards and upwards for Shane Lowry after his marquee 2019 season, as he begins his title defence at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The Irishman won at Abu Dhabi Golf Club 12 months ago and carried his form and confidence through to the summer, leading to a memorable maiden Major championship victory at The Open.
"It was obviously my best year-to-date. I couldn't really have envisaged what happened. It was really nice to get off to an unbelievable start here, winning one of the biggest events on Tour," said Lowry.
With a Ryder Cup and the Olympics to come in 2020, there could be more firsts for Lowry and once again it all begins with the Rolex Series in Abu Dhabi, where he is aiming to emulate Tommy Fleetwood - the last man to win the title in consecutive seasons.
"Obviously I have goals in my head. I have it in my head what I want to achieve this year, and the main thing for me is make that Ryder Cup team. I've set everything out to do that," said Lowry."The Olympics is going to be exciting. I've never played, so hopefully I can go there this year. We don't win too many Gold Medals in Ireland, so if you're able to bring one back to Ireland, I think that would be very, very special."
Fleetwood's victory at this event in 2017 proved to be the springboard that led to him winning the Race to Dubai at the end of the season, and his 2018 win in Abu Dhabi preceded his momentous Ryder Cup debut at Le Golf National.
His Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia is vying for first wins on both the Rolex Series and at this event, as he returns to Abu Dhabi for the first time since 2014.
The Spaniard has never finished outside of the top 20 in his six previous appearances at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, and he knows the benefit of early season success in the desert, going on to win the Masters Tournament after his victory in Dubai in 2017.
Rising star Viktor Hovland is another man with the Ryder Cup on his radar, as the 22-year-old Norwegian joins the stellar field in Abu Dhabi with the aim of converting his impressive amateur achievements into his first professional victory.