On the eve of the Dubai Desert Classic adverse weather settled over the region. With heavy rain also expected as the tournament begins it has been announced that, in the interests of safety, the opening round will be closed to the public.
A statement released via the Hero Dubai Desert Classic social media platforms reads: "Due to adverse weather conditions and with the safety of all in mind, the organisers of Hero Dubai Desert Classic have made the decision to close the tournament to the public on Thursday 26th January. Emirates Golf Club will be open only to the players, the caddies, officials and the media. We look forward to welcoming everyone back on Friday 27 January."
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The news is sure to be a blow for players who thrive on the atmosphere generated by a big crowd as well as fans who had hoped to attend the opening round but will now have to rethink their plans. The rain had also been a consideration for some players in the build-up to the tournament, who speculated on how it would affect the course.
One of those was Tommy Fleetwood, who said: “It will be interesting to see what difference some rain makes. Of course, in the wind, the course is going to play tougher at the moment. Rain would soften the greens up but also make the rough pretty horrible. You know, we'll see. Got to be ready for any conditions and whatever the week throws at you but definitely the course is playing a really good test as it has done the last two or three years. So it will be interesting to see what the conditions are and what difference that makes.”
Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington predicted a challenging opening round. He said: “This is one of those golf courses that seems really difficult in practice. When you get into it and play it in the tournament, the tees get moved around a little bit. The scoring is generally better than expected.
“When it's raining, it could actually go the other way, go substantially the other way. It's a big, long golf course. Wet rough, that would make it very awkward. So, I think -- I don't know what to expect but I'm preparing myself for a long day tomorrow, even if that means sitting in the clubhouse, but out on the golf course, it's going to be a grind.”
With more difficult playing conditions and the lack of atmosphere to contend with, the prospect of getting off to a good start for players in a strong field has surely now become even more daunting.
Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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