Rolex Series

More Dubai delight for Spanish stars

Sergio Garcia and Pablo Larrazábal maintained the fine Spanish legacy at the Dubai Desert Classic as they carded rounds of 67 on day one at Emirates Golf Club.

Sergio Garcia

Seve Ballesteros won the third edition of this event in 1992 and fellow Major Champion José María Olazábal lifted the Dallah Trophy in 1998.

Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Alvaro Quiros and Rafa Cabrera Bello then secured a hat-trick of Spanish wins from 2010-2012 before Garcia lifted the trophy in 2017.

Speaking ahead of the second Rolex Series event of the 2022 DP World Tour season, the 42-year-old said he did not know why Spaniards seem to thrive in the desert, but he did give an insight into his own success after his opening bogey-free round.

"The weather really helps," he said. "It's a really nice golf course and I've done well here, so that also helps.

"It feels like it's usually a nice way to start the year. You're always excited to come back.

"It was good. I think obviously it got a little bit more challenging the last couple of holes with left-to-right wind into on those two strong holes.

"Made a couple of nice par saves at the right times and kept it in play for the most part.

"Hit a good amount of greens and when I didn't, my chipping and putting was there to help me. So that was good."

Larrazábal has played every edition of this event since 2009 but he has yet to secure a top ten, although he does have a victory in the UAE in Abu Dhabi in 2014.

Pablo Larrazábal

And he was hopeful the new greens at Emirates Golf Club would bring him a change of fortune in Dubai after he too got to five under with seven birdies and two bogeys.

"This is my 14th time that I've played around here and these greens, they never treated me properly," he said. "So I'm glad they've changed the greens and they run perfect. Obviously they are new, so the ball is bouncing a little too much.

"But the job they did in making some new pin positions, the way they shaped those greens now, they are much better and I'm glad they did it and I have to congratulate them.

"I didn't feel good at the start of the week but I played nine holes yesterday, nine holes on Tuesday and I started feeling, you know, ready to go after we played yesterday. 

"We did a good session of practice and today we have one of those days - very confident with my driver and making a few putts here and a few putts there."

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