Rolex Series

Hero Dubai Desert Classic - Five things to know Presented by OCEANTEE

World Number One Rory McIlroy tees it up in his first event of 2023 as the DP World Tour returns to Emirates Golf Club for the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, the second Rolex Series event of the season. Here are your five things to know.

Desert Swing continues with second Rolex Series event

Following on from back-to-back tournaments in Abu Dhabi to kickstart the year - the inaugural Hero Cup and Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship - the DP World Tour makes the short journey to Dubai for the second Rolex Series event in as many weeks. The Hero Dubai Desert Classic is the third event in a four-week swing in the Middle East, which attracts many of the world’s leading golfers to the region. The run of events in the United Arab Emirates will conclude next week with the Ras Al Khaimah Championship, returning to Al Hamra Golf Club. The Dubai Desert Classic was elevated to Rolex Series status for the first time in 2022 and this year it is once again one of the five premium events on the Race to Dubai, with stops at the Genesis Scottish Open, BMW PGA Championship and DP World Tour Championship to follow later in the season.

McIlroy aims to draw level with Els as he bids for elusive Rolex win

Four-time Major champion McIlroy is returning to the scene of his maiden professional victory as he bids to claim a record-equalling third Dubai Desert Crown title. Doing so would see the 33-year-old move level with Ernie Els, who lifted the Dallah trophy in 1994, 2002 and 2005. In 2009, then a teenager, McIlroy claimed a one-shot victory over Justin Rose to win the event for the first time before he repeated the feat by finishing three shots ahead of Alex Noren in 2015. This year marks his 13th appearance, with a remarkable nine top tens in that time on the Majlis Course. Another incentive to claim victory is the chance to end his wait for a maiden Rolex Series triumph. The headline act from Northern Ireland was crowned European Number One for a fourth time last year as he completed a rare double having won the PGA TOUR’s FedEx Cup for a record third time earlier in 2022.

Inside the field

Joining McIlroy and a host of fellow DP World Tour stars in this week’s field is Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, who sits atop the World Amateur Golf Ranking. The 23-year-old has previously made two DP World Tour starts, making the cut at the Nordea Masters in 2018 and Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika in 2021. His invite is the reward for being the top-ranked player in the PGA Tour University points standings at the end of the 2022-23 college season. Northern Ireland’s Challenge Tour Graduate Tom McKibbin is another exciting young player to watch out for after a promising start to life on the DP World Tour. At the other end of the experience scale, three-time Major Champion Pádraig Harrington arrives after finishing fourth at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at the age of 51 as he came close to becoming the oldest winner on Tour. Two-time champion Stephen Gallacher is making his 23rd appearance in the Dubai Desert Classic. The 48-year-old Scotsman remains the only player to have recorded back-to-back wins in this event’s rich history, having done so in 2013 and 2014.

Iconic event

This week marks the 34th edition of the Dubai Desert Classic, the DP World Tour’s longest-running event in the Middle East. First played in 1989, the tournament has been hosted at Emirates Golf Club on all but two occasions ­- Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club staged the event in 1999 and 2000. The 1991 edition was not held due to the Gulf War. Long established as one of the most highly anticipated events on the calendar, many of the world’s best golfers including several Major champions have enjoyed success. The last seven editions of the tournament have seen first-time winners, with Viktor Hovland becoming the first Norwegian winner of a Rolex Series event last year. With an elevated prize fund of US$9million to play for, who will be claiming one of the Tour’s most coveted trophies on Sunday?

Emirates Golf Club-1458710824

Tour’s Green Drive initiative in full swing in Dubai

Following on from the announcement last week that all Rolex Series events in 2023 will be carbon neutral, a series of initiatives are planned as part of the DP World Tour’s Green Drive. As was the case at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, there will be no plastic bottles on site at Emirates Golf Club, while 100% of food waste will be composted. For power, there will be over 1000sqm of solar panels helping power temporary event infrastructure saving over 7,000 litres of fuel, while all generators will be powered by biofuel. Several free workshops will also take place on Saturday and Sunday, including the chance to make your very own seed balls to take home and plant. Cars will be charged 50AED for parking, and for each car parked, the event will plant 3 Ghaf trees. The Emirates Golf Club is GEO Certified, meaning the highest sustainability standards in golf will be met.

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