Colin Montgomerie launches his attempt to finish number one in the Volvo Ranking for the sixth successive time when he tees-up in the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.
Montgomerie made his first start of 1996 in Dubai a winning one when he overhauled Miguel Angel Jiménez with a superb birdie at the last to couple rounds of 67,68,67 and 68 for an 18 under par total of 270. In fact Montgomerie, runner-up to Fred Couples in 1995 and joint sixth last year, is 47 under par for his last 12 Dubai Desert Classic rounds at the Emirates.
“I had a great finish in 1996 when I hit driver-driver at the last hole to set-up the winning birdie,” Montgomerie said. “I also have good memories of 1995 when I scored 63 in the second round because it was the first time I had made ten birdies in one round in a European Tour event.”
Twelve months ago Australian Richard Green created history when he became the first left-handed player to win on the European Tour since 1974 by capturing the Dubai Desert Classic. Green holed from 12 feet at the first extra hole to win a sudden-death play-off against Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam.
The Emirates course is one of the miracles of modern golf architecture set as it is in the midst of flat, arid desert, 20 minutes drive from the centre of Dubai. It has stands of trees to act as windbreaks around its perimeter, and a £15 million club house which is based on an encampment of seven Bedouin tents.
The course is sprayed with one million gallons of water daily from a nearby desalination plant to sustain its hybrid grasses and surprisingly wide variety of vegetation.
This year the players will confront a shorter - 440 yards instead of 463 yards - ninth hole. Nevertheless the hole dog-legs so sharply to the right that the water to the left is more likely to come into play so that the tee shot will need to be struck with authority and accuracy. The play-off holes this year will be 18-9-18-9.
Location: 8 miles South West of Dubai