The stage is set for the 34th Dubai Desert Classic, with a new sponsor and a record $9 million on the line for the DP World Tour’s flagship Middle East event.

As ever, the Rolex Series tournament — now sponsored by Hero MotoCorp — is attracting huge crowds and some of the biggest names in golf‚ and they do not come much bigger than Rory McIlroy. The world No. 1 is raring to go in his first start of 2023, following yet another stellar year that saw him claim top spots on both the Atlantic by winning the PGA Tour FedEx Cup and the DP World Tour season-long Rankings race.

Having taken a well-earned break over the festive season, now the Northern Irishman is back at Emirates Golf Club on a mission to claim a third Dubai Desert Classic title. But that will be much easier said than done as 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry, plus DP World Tour stars Tommy Fleetwood, Ryan Fox and Tyrrell Hatton will be among those teeing up with their eyes on the prize, too.

Then there are surging stars like Adrian Meronk, Sepp Straka and newly crowned Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Victor Perez, alongside the likes of recent Hero Cup stars Robert MacIntyre, Guido Migliozzi, Matt Wallace, Thomas Detry, Alex Noren and Ewen Ferguson. The old boys have also served a bit of a wake-up call to the young pups in recent times, with veterans such as Padraig Harrington, Francesco Molinari, Richard Bland plus Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald rolling back the years as they rolled in the putts, reminding us all what they are still capable of.

The stars of the future are on show in the UAE too, with leading amateurs Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, Egypt’s Issa Abou El Ela and American Michael Thorbjornsen all set to rub shoulders with the big guns.

Add other major winners such as Henrik Stenson and Patrick Reed into the mix and the stage is set for another thriller, following the dramatic playoff victory for Norway’s Viktor Hovland in the fading light 12 months ago, as he held off McIlroy and Bland on a gripping Sunday for a famous win.

With the roll of honour on the Hero Dubai Desert Classic winners’ list including greats such as Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, José María Olazábal, Mark O’Meara, Tiger Woods, Stenson, McIlroy, and Sergio Garcia, enjoy the intrigue and the action to see who will add their name to that prestigious list.