Rolex Series

How the Hero Dubai Desert Classic’s Rolex Series debut played out in 2022

Since its maiden edition in 1989, the Hero Dubai Desert Classic has established itself as one of the DP World Tour's biggest events, producing thrilling spectacle and superstar winners over a remarkable 34 years.

In 2022, it was handed the honour of becoming the tenth Rolex Series event, assuming its place alongside the Tour's collection of prestige tournaments: the BMW PGA Championship, DP World Tour Championship, Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Genesis Scottish Open.

And in true Desert Classic style, we were handed a week to savour, as Viktor Hovland claimed his first Rolex Series title in dramatic fashion.

A stellar field assembled at Emirates Golf Club, with Rory McIlroy, who was looking for a third win in this event, joined by nine of his 2020 Ryder Cup team-mates as well as reigning European Number One Collin Morikawa.

But it was in-form Dane Joachim. B. Hansen, with a win and a top ten in his last two appearances in Dubai, who set the target after day one, firing a seven-under 65 before he was joined at the top by Justin Harding, who had to finish his opening round on Friday morning.

The South African followed his opening 65 with a 68 to lead by two at the halfway stage and while Tyrrell Hatton was his nearest challenger, Hovland and McIlroy were also contention four shots back.

A third-round 71 kept Harding two ahead of McIlroy with 18 holes to play and after a third-round 73 left him six back, it looked like Hovland's race could be run before all that changed on a dramatic Sunday.

Hovland DDC 2022-1367671769

The Norwegian was still barely in the picture when he three-putted and made a bogey on the 15th in the final round but he holed from 35 feet on the next and then drove the 17th and made a 33-footer for eagle to tie the lead.

A two-putt birdie on the par-five last saw him set the target at 12 under after a 66 and he was joined there by Richard Bland, who had a birdie-birdie finish of his own in a 68.

McIlroy was also 12 under and needed a birdie over the gettable final two holes but he had to make a remarkable par from the bushes at the 17th and found water on the last for a bogey that sent Bland and Hovland back up the last.

Hovland made a two-putt birdie on the first trip back up the 18th and when Bland failed to get up and down after finding a tricky lie with his second, it was the then-24-year-old who was left holding the Dallah Trophy.

"This is pretty wild," said Hovland after his win. "I didn't really think this was possible going in today. I knew I had to shoot a really low number but a lot of things had to go my way and I'm thankful that they did.

"I'm pumping right now. It's a little bit surreal and it's hard to kind of calm yourself a little bit but you've just got to rely on all the shots that you hit and just go back to what you know."

In winning, Hovland became the first Norwegian winner of a Rolex Series event as once again history was made with drama in the desert.

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