Tommy Fleetwood celebrates Europe’s 17½-10½ Ryder Cup success at Le Golf National.
By Kent Gray
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic has long touted itself as the “Major of the Middle East” and is now hanging its hat on the Ryder Cup to sell the cast of stars confirmed for the 30th edition of the $3.25 million European Tour event.
With two-time champion Rory McIlroy already a confirmed scratching from the 2019 Desert Swing, rejuvenated 2016 winner Danny Willett also PGA Tour-bound and new European No.1 Francesco Molinari as yet uncommitted on his early season schedule, the Desert Classic is trumpeting “30 years of Ryder Cup heroes” for the tournament’s matching anniversary at Emirates Golf Club.
Step forward Le Golf National heroes Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton, Thorbjørn Olesen, victorious 2018 captain Thomas Bjørn, vice-captain Lee Westwood and Ryder Cup legends of old Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Colin Montgomerie.
Haotong Li has also confirmed his return to Dubai to defend the famed Dallah trophy which the Chinese 23-year-old claimed by a stroke from McIlroy last season to become the first Asian winner on the Majlis course.
Also locked in for the second leg of the new-look Abu Dhabi-Dubai-Saudi Arabia Desert Swing from January 24-27 are current 2019 Race to Dubai leader Aaron Rai, Dubai-domiciled Rafa Cabrera Bello, former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, Twitter favourite Eddie Pepperell, desert specialist Matt Fitzpatrick, Uxbridge upstart Matt Wallace and Andy Sullivan.
European Tour rookie-of-the-Year Shubhankar Sharma is confirmed to join fellow UAE based Indian Rayhan Thomas with the 19-year-old Dubai Creek member himself set for an intriguing showdown with reigning British Amateur champion Jovan Rebula, the nephew of the Desert Classic’s only three-time champion Ernie Els.
Tournament Director David Spencer is thrilled with the confirmed cast.
“We are looking forward to ensuring that our 30th edition continues to enhance Dubai’s growing reputation as a world class golfing destination” the Australian said.
“The players love our tournament because they get to spend time in our dynamic and vibrant city. No doubt when the winner’s name is etched on our Dallah trophy in 2019, the tradition of Greatness will continue.”
A new viewing platform near the Majlis’ 18th green, a new spectator area on the par-3 15th hole and a redesigned tournament village will greet spectators in January. A four-day season pass will cost AED 250.
For tournament information, tickets and hospitality packages, visit omegadubaidesertclassic.com