World focus on Dubai Desert Classic
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2014 Omega Dubai Desert Classic | Preview | 28 Jan 2014
The European Tour heads back south this week for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic where Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson provide most of the pre tournament discussion.
Woods has been a two time winner of the event and has finished inside the top five on three other occasions in six starts at this event and although he has not played the tournament since finishing 20th in 2011 he must be a consideration.
The big concern for Woods’ fans is his rather unusual effort at Torrey Pines last week when at one of his most successful venues he failed to make the third round cut after a round of 79 on Saturday.
Stenson has played this event in every one of the last 13 years and had a great stretch between 2006 and 2010 including victory in 2007. Despite his slow start to 2014 Stenson became such a major figure in the game in the latter half of 2013 he has to be respected.
McIlroy has a great record in this event having won and recorded top tens in each of his last four starts here. He is seriously recovering his mojo having finished runner-up in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago and winning the Australian Open in December for his first win of 2013. His chances of a first European Tour title in more nearly 14 months appear very good.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher seems to play very well in the Desert. His record over the years in this part of the world is very strong and as the defending champion he is likely to figure at various stages during the week. He finished only midfield last week but was brought undone by his third round Saturday.
Rafael Cabrera Bello is another who has experienced a lot of success in this region including in this every event which he won in 2012 and recorded top twenties in his other two most recent starts. He has played well this season finishing 4th in Abu Dhabi and 3rd last week in Qatar.
The Australian line-up is headed in terms of world ranking by Brett Rumford but Marcus Fraser, Richard Green, Wade Ormsby and Scott Hend also get a start. Hend in in the field as a result of his success in Asia in 2013 and his performance will be watched with interest.
Rumford has never finished better then 20th in the event, while Fraser finished 5th last year. Ormsby is a much improved player and could potentially do well amongst the Australians but much more is unlikely. Green does not appear to be playing well enough to capitalise on his liking for the layout.