The European Tour’s Desert Swing continues this week with the 30th anniversary edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Here are five things you need to know as the action gets under way at Emirates Golf Club.
Celebrations in full swing
Former winners pictured at the 25th anniversary celebrations in 2014
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. England’s Mark James won the maiden edition in 1989 at Emirates Golf Club, which has hosted the event on all but two occasions – in 1999 and 2000 when the action switched to Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.
The tournament has been won by 24 different players from 13 different countries and the roll of honour includes ten 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)
At the double
China’s Li Haotong clinched his second European Tour title on the Majlis Course last year, and he is aiming to become only the second player to successfully defend his title after Scotsman Stephen Gallacher, who won back-to-back events in 2013 and 2014.
Li held off the challenge of four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy to win by one stroke last year, setting a record winning score of 23 under par in the process and becoming the first Asian player to lift the striking Dallah trophy – which means coffee pot in Arabic.
A star-studded field will grace the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club this year, including seven Major winners.
Winning the event has proved to be something of a good omen for those heading to Augusta National in recent years. In 2016 Danny Willett lifted the trophy three months prior to his debut Major triumph at the Masters Tournament and the following year Sergio Garcia matched that feat, winning in Dubai before going on to claim the Green Jacket.
Four-time Major champion Ernie Els holds the record for the most wins in this event with three (1994, 2002, 2005). The South African, who will tee it up once again this year, set a Majlis Course record with an 11 under par 61 in 1994 - a record which still stands.
Bryson DeChambeau returns to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for his first appearance as a professional at the event. The American made his debut in the tournament in 2016, where he won the Amateur Medal for the lowest score by an amateur following his rounds of 70-69-68-69, finishing in a share of 18th place.
Since then the European Tour member has recorded five victories on the US PGA Tour, and made his debut for the United States in The Ryder Cup in 2018.
Tee with a view
The view from the eighth tee on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club is arguably one of the most recognisable in the world of golf.
Standing on the tee of the 459-yard par four hole, players are faced with a lush green fairway to the left and a huge expanse of desert to the right, all against a mesmerising backdrop of the gleaming skyscrapers of the famous Dubai skyline.