The Hero Dubai Desert Classic managed to weather the storm.

Following some valiant efforts through the night and long into the day, the action got rolling at Emirates Golf Club after the adverse weather conditions that swept across the UAE on Wednesday and into the early hours of yesterday morning forced the tournament organisers to close the course to spectators and suspend play for some of the world’s top golfers early on.

The Emirates Golf Club ground staff earned their stripes in spectacular fashion by getting the Majlis Course back up to tournament standards for the eventual afternoon start, where the likes of World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed began their quest to claim the second Rolex Series event of the DP World Tour season.

While 22 of the scheduled 44 groups managed to complete the majority of their rounds (12 players made it to the clubhouse before play was called off for the day, thankfully due to bad light and not bad weather), it was 2022 Abu Dhabi HSBC champ Thomas Pieters who managed to grab top spot of a very embryonic 2023 leaderboard on five-under after completing 15 holes of his first round.

The Belgian leads the pack by one stroke, with stars such as Tommy Fleetwood, Reed and 2023  Abu Dhabi HSBC champion Victor Perez lurking alongside Matthew Jordan, Daniel Gavins and Oliver Wilson.

Gavins, the 2021 ISPS World Handa Invitational victor, was one of that handful of players to get 18 holes under his belt after flirting with the lead all day, and he can rest easy this morning as a whole host of rivals face an early start to complete their first rounds.

World No. 1 McIlroy lies on two-under through 15 holes alongside a massive group that includes Robert MacIntyre, former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn and American amateur Michael Thorbjornsen.

With half the field still to get their campaign under way, early risers are in for a treat with a packed day of golfing action on the cards. While the weather is set to improve, there will be no on-site parking for visitors at Emirates Golf Club today, and spectators are urged to use public transport.