• Dubai Desert Classic: Talking points

    Dubai Desert Classic PREVIEW
    The American is one to watch

    Here’s what you need to know ahead of the second event of the European Tour’s Desert Swing – the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club.

    As the oldest European Tour tournament in the Middle East – and the longest running on the Race to Dubai outside Europe – the Omega Dubai Desert Classic will again return to Emirates Golf Club for its 31st edition. The venue has hosted the event on all but two occasions, with Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club the only other tournament venue, in 1999 and 2000.

    Given the tournament’s prestige, it is of little surprise that the roll of honour features many of the biggest names in the game, including ten different Major champions: Seve Ballesteros (1992), Ernie Els (1994, 2002, 2005), Fred Couples (1995), José María Olazábal (1998), Mark O’Meara (2004), Tiger Woods (2006, 2008), Henrik Stenson (2007), Rory McIlroy (2009, 2015), Danny Willett (2016) and Sergio Garcia (2017).

    South African fans will have plenty of interest in the event with Louis Oosthuizen, Erik van Rooyen, Justin Harding, Brandon Stone, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Shaun Norris, Richard Sterne, Haydn Porteous, Thomas Aiken, Dean Burmester and amateur Jayden Schaper all in the mix.

    DeChambeau returns to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the second successive season after clinching the striking Dallah trophy 12 months ago. The American has never left Emirates Golf Club empty-handed, winning the Amateur Medal on his only other appearance at the tournament in 2016. The World No 17 will be looking to add to his silverware collection when he bids to replicate his runaway seven-shot triumph this week.

    He mesmerised the crowds on course to his first overseas victory in 2019 by producing a closing round of 64, which included seven birdies and an eagle, to finish the tournament on 24 under par. It was a new tournament record and he finished seven shots clear of his closest challenger, Matt Wallace. His winning total was one shot better than that of the former record holder Li Haotong, who had, one year prior, set a new bar with his triumphant performance.

    This year’s winner will be keen to follow in the footsteps of the 2016 and 2017 champions, Willett and Garcia, who both went on to win the Masters Tournament – their first Major championship titles – at Augusta National just months after triumphing at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. First, they will need to defeat a world-class field this week, which includes the 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry, World No 10 Tommy Fleetwood and multiple Rolex Series champion Bernd Wiesberger.

    Sergio Garcia

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