x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

Dubai Desert Classic notebook: MENA players mix it with the big guns, McDowell earns his keep

John McAuley and Paul Radley offer a round-up of the happenings on and off the Dubai Desert Classic golf course.

Peter Uihlein of the USA plays his second shot on the par 5, 18th hole during the first round of the 2015 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.  David Cannon / Getty
Peter Uihlein of the USA plays his second shot on the par 5, 18th hole during the first round of the 2015 Omega Dubai Desert Classic. David Cannon / Getty

The National’s John McAuley and Paul Radley provide an insight into the happenings on and off the Majlis golf course.

Transatlantic translation

As one of the few Americans to first follow a path on the European Tour instead of its counterpart in the United States, Peter Uihlein, left, must be fast becoming familiar with the subtle differences in dialect on this side of the pond. After posting a first-round 65 yesterday to sit joint second, the Massachusetts-born golfer was asked if playing the Majlis’ snooker-table greens facilitated his low score. “We call them pool tables,” he said. “But same thing.”

Lucky 13 for Gallacher

The start of Stephen Gallacher’s pursuit of a hat-trick of Omega Dubai Desert Classic titles followed a similar pattern to previous efforts. Namely, generally solid scoring, interspersed with some imperious shot-making. His past successes were notable for the number of unlikely holed iron shots. He was at it again yesterday, as he chipped in from a bunker for eagle at the 13th. “I seem to always hole a shot when I come here for some reason,” said Gallacher, who finished 6-under. “I’m starting to expect it now.”

Mixing with big guns

The Classic’s decision to award the Mena Golf Tour’s leading lights a place in the event is always a welcome one, as it allows the players on the developmental circuit, organised by Golf in Dubai, to gain some experience. That faith was rewarded yesterday, when Ahmed Marjane fared best of the seven Mena players. “I don’t see anything wrong with my game — it’s a question of stringing together all parts of the game,” said the confident Moroccan, 22. “Maybe, tomorrow is the day. Let’s see.”

Baby boom

Graeme McDowell says he was coerced back onto the course in Dubai after an extended winter break by his wife, demanding he earn some money to pay for nappies. The Northern Irishman, who proposed to Kristin on the helipad at the Burj Al Arab three years ago, has a five-month-old baby daughter. “It is getting hard to leave the nest, but she told me to go make a few quid to buy nappies and formula,” said McDowell, who went around in 5-under.

RELATED:

— Omega Dubai Desert Classic 2015 tee times — second round

— Rory McIlroy continues fine UAE form at Dubai Desert Classic

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE