Rolex Series

Marco Penge braced for 'unbelievable' challenge on his Rolex Series debut in Dubai

DP World Tour rookie Marco Penge admits mixing with some of the world's best is "hard to believe" ahead of his Rolex Series debut at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

Marco Penge

The 25-year-old Englishman has overcome the adversity of a career-threatening knee injury to earn his spot at Emirates Golf Club following his success at the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A last season.

He continued his rich vein of form before the end of 2023, finishing in a tie for 12th at the Investec South African Open Championship in his second event after claiming his DP World Tour card before leading midway through round three at the Alfred Dunhill Championship where he eventually shared fourth place.

And Penge is grateful to be teeing it up alongside the likes of World Number Two Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood in Dubai.

"Playing in the Rolex events, you are playing against the best players in Europe and around the world so to play in the same field as Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood, and all the top players who play in the Ryder Cup, it's unbelievable. It's hard to believe," he said.

"Last year I was on the Challenge Tour and in a short amount of time I've managed to turn things around really quickly and now I'm playing against people you dreamed about playing against. It's great and something I will never forget."

Penge has modestly played down the severity of his knee injury - osteoarthritis was discovered and a hole was drilled in his cartilage to help with blood flow as well as bone shaping - but he has since bounced back, winning on the European Challenge Tour for the first time last September in Portugal before adding the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A title two months later.

He added: "I had a knee operation in 2021, or 2020 I think it was, and I didn't play golf for eight or nine months when I was going through that period, and obviously with Covid and stuff, it kind of put a hold on all of our careers, especially young guys like me trying to make it to the top of the game. It put us back a few years.

"So it's been a bit of a roller coaster, but I'm absolutely over the moon with how things have changed and last year was the perfect example. The start of the season being not very good then in the space of two months I've turned it around from potentially losing my Challenge Tour card to playing in Rolex events.

"I feel like I've put on quite a lot of speed in the last two years since my knee operation so maybe I was kind of holding myself back a little bit, not being 100 per cent fit. Being able to hit it 320 (yards) through the air is a massive advantage."


The World Number 301 has set his sights on lofty heights by the end of his rookie campaign on DP World Tour, but he also set out his more immediate plans.

"It's more about feeling comfortable playing against some of the best players in the world," Penge concluded.

"I feel like if anything that will hold me back is more expectations and the mental side of the game, so as long as I come out of every event saying I enjoyed it and felt like I mentally dealt with the pressure and situations then I'll be really happy.

"But to get to the DP World Tour final would be a pretty good achievement and just putting myself in contention to win as much as I can. I've done that once down in South Africa, where I was leading after 47 holes or whatever it was, so I've proved to myself that I can be in that position, I'd just like to do that as much as I can."

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