Lowdown: 2009 will see the 20th running of the Dubai Desert Classic, it has become one of the most prestigious tournaments on the European Tour schedule. Last year Tiger Woods fired a blistering final round of 65 to sneak past Martin Kaymer and Ernie Els.
The history of the Dubai Desert Classic dates back to 1986 when HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved the construction of a golf course in the desert. The Emirates Club opened two years later and the next season Mark James was winner of the inaugural Karl Litten Desert Classic (the competition was originally named after the designer of the course.)
Sergio Garcia is the highest ranked player in this year’s field and Robert Karlsson is next. Both will be looking to secure a victory in the Gulf.

Preview: FBR Open

Venue: Emirates GC, Dubai
Date: Jan 29 – Feb 1
Course stats: par 72, 7,301 yards
Purse: €1,900,000  Winner: €323,514
Defending champion: Tiger Woods (-14)

TV coverage:
Thursday 29 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6am
Friday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 1 6am
Saturday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9am
Sunday 1 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8am

Player watch:
Henrik Stenson – The winner in 2007, Stenson was also joint sixth last year. He’s likely to feature again in 2009.
Ernie Els – The South African is a three-time champion in the event and holds the course record of 61. He was tied for third here last year.
Louis Oosthuizen – He’s been on superb form over the last two weeks, finishing runner-up in both Abu Dhabi and Qatar. He was also tied third here in 2008.

Key hole: 9th. At 463 yards it’s one of the longest par-4s on the course. Add the complication of the water waiting all down the left side and you have a real brute.
Skills required: Course management. There are a number of water hazards and bunkers to contend with as well as desert areas. The winner will plot his way round the course making few mistakes.

Where next?

Preview: FBR Open
Equipment: TaylorMade R9 driver and fairway woods; Cobra S9-1 driver and fairway woods
Industry news: Titleist named Official Ball Supplier to Challenge Tour