Dubai completes Gulf swing for Euro Tour
BY Anthony Powter | European PGA Tour | 2010 Dubai Desert Classic | Preview | 04 Feb 2010
The European Tour’s swing through the (Persian) Gulf ends this week when the Omega Dubai Desert Classic is played at its long term home, the Karl Litten designed Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.
In the twenty year history of the event the tournament has been played at the Emirates Golf Club on all but two to its stagings, the only occasions when it was not being in 1999 and 2000 when the nearby Dubai Creek Yacht and Golf Club, also designed by Litten, was used.
The tournament’s defending champion is Rory McIlroy who won what must surely be the first of many such tournaments when he edged out Justin Rose by one shot last year. McIlroy is likely to start as the favourite to repeat his win but this is, again, a high quality line-up with five of the world’s top ten in the field and each and every one of them and several others with the credentials to win without surprise.
Like McIlroy, Henrik Stenson is a former winner and although his first two tournament this season have hardly been stunning he is too good a player to be out of winning contention for too long, especially in the Desert where he has so often done well.
The same could be said for Martin Kaymer who won two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, finished 4th in this event last year and two years ago finished runner up to Tiger Woods. Now the world number 6, he has every reason to be considered one of the genuine chances this week.
Lee Westwood is the leading world ranked player in Dubai this week and although he has yet to win this event he is playing so well and so consistently of late that he stands a very good chance of doing so.
Two Swedes appear to be returning to their former glory. Robert Karlsson’s fine win last week in Qatar cemented his return from injury and moved him back inside the world top ten while Niclas Fasth’s top ten was very encouraging for one of Europe’s better players two years ago.
One player who may not have any impact on the result but whose presence will no doubt be appreciated is Tom Watson who at the age of 60 tees it up against a field where no other player is within ten years of him age-wise.
The Australasian challenge is again headed by a former winner of this event Richard Green. Not only did Green win the event in 1997 but he held the lead four years ago before a bogey at the final hole saw Tiger Woods and Ernie Els forced him into a third place finish.
Scott Strange, Brett Rumford, Danny Lee, Scott Hend, Marcus Fraser, Michael Campbell and Mark Brown complete the Australasian challenge.