Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Haotong Li and Martin Kaymer added to 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic line-up

Graeme McDowell and Tyrrell Hatton also confirmed to compete in January's European Tour event

Haotong Li won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2018 ahead of Rory McIlroy. Getty 
Haotong Li won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2018 ahead of Rory McIlroy. Getty 

The 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic has confirmed four more high-profile players that will compete at the European Tour event in January, including 2018 winner Haotong Li and major champions Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell.

Li, 24, made history in 2018 when, at the age of 22, he engaged in a duel with Rory McIlroy and came out on top against his superstar rival, closing with a then record score of 23-under par to become the tournament's first Asian champion.

“This is a tournament that I have very special memories of, so I cannot wait to return to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next January,” said world No 61 Li.

“Going up against a player of Rory’s calibre and coming out on top gave me a lot of confidence and the win itself changed my career, so I’m excited to be heading back.

"To get another victory would be the perfect way to start next season, especially against a field full of so many great players, so I’m already looking forward to playing again in January.”

Kaymer, meanwhile, will be aiming to win his first Desert Classic title, but the German has many happy memories of playing in the UAE.

The former world No 1 is the most successful player in Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship history having won the event an unprecedented three times – his second title, in 2010, achieved the same year he won the Race to Dubai.

“It’s going to be a fantastic experience being back in Dubai” said the 34-year-old two-time major champion. “I have had plenty of success in the region and, while I’ve not won this particular event yet, I still get a good feeling being back in the country.

"Not only is the course always in great condition, the tournament is well run and the field one of the strongest on the Tour outside the Majors. It should be a great week.”

McDowell will be looking to continue his resurgence in the new year when he tees off at Emirates Golf Club from January 23-26.

The 40-year-old Northern Irishman ended a three-and-a-half-year title drought last season with victory on the PGA Tour and later qualified for the British Open in the most dramatic of circumstances, sinking a 40-foot putt on the final 18th green at the Canadian Open.

“I am really excited for next season and I hope the form I’ve found this year can continue," McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion, said. "Being a Ryder Cup year, many of us will be looking at getting our qualification campaigns off to the best possible starts and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic would be a great place to do that.”

Martin Kaymer is aiming to win the Desert Classic for the first time. Getty
Martin Kaymer is aiming to win the Desert Classic for the first time. Getty

Also confirmed on Thursday was English Ryder Cup player Hatton, who like Kaymer has plenty of positive results in the UAE but is yet to land the Desert Classic title.

Hatton, 28, has twice finished in the top-10 at the Desert Classic, claimed runner-up at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, and sixth in Abu Dhabi.

“I always love playing the Majlis course,” world No 48 Hatton said. “I’ve finished eighth and third at the event there in the past, plus I always enjoy playing in Dubai as the weather and course conditions are just perfect.

"So many great players have won this event over the past 30-plus years and to add my name to that list would be incredible. I can’t wait.”

The four golfers announced on Thursday will face fierce competition for the Dallah Trophy in January.

Among those previously confirmed are defending champion and world No 10 Bryson DeChambeau, who last year broke Li's record when he went 24-under par for the week, and two-time Abu Dhabi winner and world No 18 Tommy Fleetwood.

There are also a host of former Dubai champions competing, including Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, and Rafa Cabrera Bello, as well as European Tour winners Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick, and Matt Wallace.

Updated: November 7, 2019 12:55 PM

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