It’s the last week of the European Tour’s “Desert Swing,” Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher is looking to make it three wins in a row at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic over the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.

Lowdown:
It’s the last week of the European Tour’s “Desert Swing,” Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher is looking to make it three wins in a row at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic over the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.

After exciting tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, a strong field has assembled in Dubai, including World Number 1 Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman won his first European Tour event here back in 2009 and he will be a strong favourite to triumph again this time out. He was second in Abu Dhabi and has not finished outside the top two in his last six European Tour events.

McIlroy will face stiff competition though, from a host of the European Tour’s best – Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood will all tee it up. Also present are the Abu Dhabi and Qatar winners – Gary Stal of France and South Africa’s Branden Grace.

This will be the 26th running of the Dubai Desert Classic and the list of past winners is impressive – Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal and Tiger Woods have all lifted the trophy. Last season, Stephen Gallacher of Scotland won for a second consecutive season. The 39-year-old produced a great back nine on Sunday to finish one clear of Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo.

The Majlis Course at the Emirates Club was the first all-grass layout in the Gulf and it’s still recognised as one of the finest tracks in the Middle East. Travelling through the desert dunes, fairways pass seven lakes, desert areas, indigenous flora and the “Majlis” themselves. Arabic for meeting place, these tent-like structures are a distinctive feature sitting between the 8th and 9th holes.

The history of the Dubai Desert Classic dates back to 1986 when His Highness 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.)

The weather forecast for the week looks perfect so expect to see some good scoring over the Majlis Course. Watch out for a winning score around the 20-under-par mark.

Venue: Emirates GC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Date: Jan 29 – Feb 1
Course stats: par 72, 7,316 yards
Purse: €2,350,000 Winner: €378,778
Defending Champion: Stephen Gallacher (-16)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 6am
Friday 30 – Sky Sports 4 from 6am
Saturday 31 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Sunday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am

Player Watch:
Rory McIlroy starts favourite, who might spring a surprise this week?

Bernd Wiesberger – The talented Austrian finished in the top-10 in the 2014 Dubai Desert Classic, only four shots behind Gallacher. He was third last week in Qatar so is clearly on good form.

Emiliano Grillo – The Argentinian was second last year in this event. He was also tied fifth last week in Qatar – another man who could be finding his best game at the right time.

Marc Warren – Runner-up in Qatar, Warren is chasing a spot in the top-50 on the Official World Golf Ranking. A win here would get him there. He’s a streaky player and last week’s form is a good indicator.

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 to an awkwardly shaped green 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 around the Majlis course. The winner will plot his way round, employing a blend of power and accuracy.