The European Tour remains in The Gulf for one more week as Miguel Angel Jiménez defends his title in the Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club.
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.)
This will be the 22nd running of the competition 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 Miguel Angel Jiménez was victorious, beating England’s Lee Westwood in a sudden-death playoff.
The veteran Spaniard will be back this year to defend the title but he’ll face stern competition from a very strong field. The world’s top-three golfers will all tee it up at the Emirates Club. It’ll be the first time since 1994 that the leading three players on the rankings play in a European Tour event outside the Majors and World Golf Championship events.
Lee Westwood was runner-up in this tournament last season and the World Number 1 will have to be on top form to maintain his position at the top of the golfing tree. If Martin Kaymer takes victory this week he will move ahead of Westwood into the Number 1 slot.
Tiger Woods, a former winner of this event in 2006 and 2008, is hoping coming back to happy hunting grounds will trigger a return to form, “I always enjoy going to Dubai and I like playing in the tournament,” he said. “There’s an outstanding field and it’s a really good golf course that’s in great shape.”
The Majlis Course was the first all-grass layout in the Gulf and it’s still recognised as one of the finest tracks in the Middle East.
Venue: Emirates Golf Club, Dubai
Date: Feb 10-13
Course stats: par 72, 7,301 yards
Defending Champion: Miguel Angel Jiménez (-11)
Thursday 10 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Friday 11 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6am
Saturday 12 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Sunday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8am
Rory McIlroy – The young Northern Irishman secured his first pro victory in this event in 2009. He was second on his last start in Abu Dhabi and has finished in the top-10 in his last four European Tour appearances.
Martin Kaymer – He won emphatically in Abu Dhabi and finished under par last week in Qatar despite confessing to having difficulties with the course. He’ll have the bit between his teeth this week to try and wrestle the title of World Number 1 from Westwood’s clutches.
Stephen Gallacher – The Scot has been playing excellent and consistent golf on the European Tour this year. He is pushing hard to climb into the top-64 on the World Rankings to try and secure a place in the WGC Accenture Matchplay. Currently at 74, a good result here would help his chances considerably.
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. Last year’s winner Miguel Angel Jimenez proved that length isn’t everything around the Majlis. There are a number of water hazards and bunkers to contend with as well as desert areas. The winner will plot his way round, employing a blend of power and accuracy.
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