The European Tour’s Desert Swing reaches Emirates Golf Club this week for the 31st edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Here’s the lowdown on five things you need to know before the action gets under way.
An iconic event
The oldest European Tour tournament in the Middle East – and the longest-running on the Race to Dubai outside of Europe – the Omega Dubai Desert Classic will again return to Emirates Golf Club for its 31st edition. The venue has hosted the event on all but two occasions, with Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club the only other tournament venue, in 1999 and 2000.
Given the tournament’s prestige, it is little surprise that the roll of honour features many of the biggest names in the game, including ten different 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).
Bryson DeChambeau returns to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the second successive season after clinching the striking Dallah trophy 12 months ago. The American has never left Emirates Golf Club empty handed, winning the Amateur Medal on his only other appearance at the tournament in 2016. The World Number 17 will be looking to add to his silverware collection when he bids to replicate his runaway seven-shot triumph this week.
DeChambeau mesmerized the crowds on course to his first overseas victory in 2019 by producing a closing round of 64, which included seven birdies and an eagle, to finish the tournament on 24 under par. It was a new tournament record and finished seven shots clear of his closest challenger Matt Wallace. His winning total was one shot better than the former record holder Li Haotong, who had, one year prior, set a new bar with his triumphant performance.
An unlikely double
This year’s winner will be keen to follow in the footsteps of the 2016 and 2017 champions, Willett and Garcia, who both went on to win the Masters Tournament - their first Major Championship titles - at Augusta National just months after triumphing at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. First, they will need to defeat a world class field this week, which includes the 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry, World Number Ten Tommy Fleetwood and multiple Rolex Series champion Bernd Wiesberger.
Shugo Imahira is set to make his Dubai debut at Emirates Golf Club this week in just his second European Tour appearance, outside of World Golf Championships and Majors, following the 2017 Maybank Championship. The Japanese player is in the form of his life, recording two victories and three runner-up finishes on the Japan Golf Tour since September, with it ascending to 35th in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’ll be joined in the field by rising Norwegian star Viktor Hovland, who will also be making his maiden appearance at the tournament after winning his first Hero Challenge title in Abu Dhabi last week.