The European Tour remains in the Middle East this week for the 30th Dubai Desert Classic. Li Haotong defends at the Emirates Golf Club.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic Leaderboard, Preview, TV Times
After his victory last week in Abu Dhabi, Shane Lowry will be looking to continue his strong run in the desert, but he’ll face strong opposition from some of the world’s best players.
World Number five Bryson DeChambeau has made the journey across the Atlantic to play at the Emirates GC. DeChambeau has collected five PGA Tour wins in the last 18 months, including the Memorial Tournament and back-to-back titles in the 2018 FedEx Cup playoffs.
He’s joined on the start list by Major champions including Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen.
This will be the 30th running of the Dubai Desert Classic. The history of event goes 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.)
Since then, there have been some great champions. Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have all lifted the trophy. Last year, Li Haotong of China birdied four of his last six holes to hold off Rory McIlroy and win by a stroke.
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 weather is set fair and it should be clear with sunshine and temperatures of around 27 Degrees Centigrade.
Venue: Emirates GC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Date: Jan 24-27
Course stats: par 72, 7,328 yards
Defending champion: Li Haotong (-23)
How to watch the Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Thursday 24 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 4am
Friday 25 – Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 7.30am
Saturday 26 – Sky Sports Golf from 8.30am and Sky Sports Main Event from 10.30am
Sunday 27 Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event from 8.30am
Not a Sky Sports customer and want to watch the Omega Dubai Desert Classic?
Players to watch:
Ian Poulter – Tied sixth last week in Abu Dhabi, Poulter was also sixth in this event last year.
Thomas Pieters – The Belgian is on form and has finished in the top-20 in each of his last five starts, including a win in the World Cup of Golf.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello – The Spaniard was tied for 11th last week and has a great record in the Dubai Desert Classic. He was champion in 2012 and runner-up in 2016.
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.