The Dubai Desert Classic was first played in 1989 and the roll of honour includes five different Major Champions. They are: Seve Ballesteros (1992), Ernie Els (1994, 02, 05), Fred Couples (1995), José Maria Olazábal (1998) and Mark O’Meara (2004). Between them they have won 13 Major Championships.
Should Els make the halfway cut he will create a new European Tour record for the number of consecutive cuts made, which will stand at 70, beating the 69 by Bernhard Langer, between the 1991 PGA Championship and 1996 PGA Championship.
Els has played eight times in the Dubai Desert Classic over the Emirates course. In that time he has recorded three victories, six top threes and never finished lower than eighth. Of his 32 rounds on the Emirates course he is a total of 120 under par, with a stroke average of 68.25. He set the current course record of 61 (-11) on the opening day in 1994, which contained a European Tour record of 12 birdies in a single round. He has broken par in 29 of his 32 rounds and has yet to sign for on over par score – his highest being a level par 72.
Defending champion, Els, will try and create Dubai Desert Classic history by becoming the first player to successfully defend the crown.
The 2006 Dubai Desert Classic will be the 17th staging of the event. The tournament has seen 14 different winners from ten different nations. Only Els has recorded multiple victories.
In 2004 O’Meara became the oldest winner of the Dubai Desert Classic, aged 47 and 54 days and the sixth oldest in European Tour history.
Seven former winners of the Dubai Desert Classic are in the field – Ernie Els (1994, 02, 05), Colin Montgomerie (1996), Richard Green (1997), David Howell (1999), Thomas Björn (2001), Robert-Jan Derksen (2003) and Mark O’Meara (2004)
By defeating Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam in a sudden-death play-off in 1997, Richard Green became the first left hander to win on The European Tour since Peter Dawson in 1975. Bob Charles, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir are the other left handed players to record a European Tour victory.