The Omega Dubai Desert Classic takes place at Emirates Golf Club this week, with the tournament action beginning on Thursday. Here are the key details.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic: All you need to know ahead of the 2018 tournament
What is it?
Established in 1989, the tournament was for some time referred to as the “Major of the Middle East” and is the longest-running European Tour event in the region. It follows on from last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, with the two UAE tournaments running back-to-back for the first time. The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, staged traditionally between the two, has been moved to next month. This week’s prize fund in Dubai stands at $3 million (Dh11m).
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- Dustin Johnson: World No 1 admits he did not have 'his best stuff' in Abu Dhabi
Who is playing?
Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy makes a welcome return to an event he has won twice, and headlines a strong field. The Northern Irishman was forced to withdraw last year because of injury, but was in fine form last week in Abu Dhabi on his comeback to competitive golf. Abu Dhabi champion Tommy Fleetwood, the reigning European No 1, will be looking to win for a second successive week, while defending champion Sergio Garcia is the highest-ranked player, at world No 9. The Spaniard triumphed last week in Singapore. Other notable names include former Dubai champions Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez, with colourful American Pat Perez debuting and home amateur Rayhan Thomas competing also.
Last year, Garcia became the second successive Dubai champion to go on to win the Masters a few months later, and will this week attempt to become only the second player to retain the Dallah trophy after Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher triumphed in 2014. Ernie Els is the event’s only three-time winner - 1994, 2002 and 2005 – although McIlroy and Gallacher are seeking to match that. McIlroy’s 2009 victory was his first win on the European Tour. Overall, the roll of honour includes some illustrations names, including Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Montgomerie, Fred Couples and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Daily tickets for the four days of competition are priced at Dh175. A season pass, which provides access all week, including Friday’s Star Clinic with McIlroy and Niall Horan, is available for Dh500. Those aged 16 and under will be allowed free entry to the course if an adult who is holding a valid ticket for the day accompanies them. Hospitality packages are also available. For more information visit www.omegadubaidesertclassic.com.