By Kent Gray
What do Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood and Miguel Ángel Jiménez all have in common?
Omega Dubai Desert Classic wins would be a close guess with Woods (2006 and 2008) a two-time winner of the famed Dallah trophy, followed by Spaniards Jiménez (2010) and Garcia (2017). Fleetwood is, of course, the odd man out but does boast a pair of Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship titles.
But the answer is a little more obscure as it comes from the 11th Golf Digest Middle East Classic last month where the three winners at Emirates Golf Club were asked who their dream Pro-Am partner would be after claiming golfing dates with the stars as their respective prizes.
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Stephen Scott was unequivocal after capturing division A (0-10 handicaps) on the Majlis and a start in January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Pro-Am with 37 points.
“Definitely Tiger Woods, the best player ever and he was my golfing idol growing up,” said the Arabian Ranches and Dubai Hills marketing manager who finished three Stableford points clear of Raymond Lucas. “It’s great seeing him competing again. Can you pair me up
We’re not sure Tiger is lined up for Abu Dhabi, Stephen, but will surely ask if he does make a shock appearance. Maybe the former world No. 1 will make another appearance at the 30th anniversary edition of the Desert Classic where Shawn Welgemoed (pictured below, left) will tee it up in the proceeding Pro-Am after winning division B (11-24 handicaps) of the GD Classic with 36 points, two clear of Kiwi Rick McIntyre.
The Jiggers Golf Society 13-handicapper didn’t specifically request Tiger but we’re picking Welgemoed wouldn’t gripe, even if one of his first choice partners was available.
“I think any of the top 10 or Ryder Cup stars like Tommy Fleetwood or Sergio Garcia would be a natural choice, but I would love to walk the fairways and puff a cigar alongside a charismatic character like Miguel Ángel Jiménez.”
Yana Jamieson, winner of the women’s Golf Digest Middle East Classic, again proudly presented by King’s College Hospital London and AutoRoute, will tee it up in next May’s Omega Dubai Moonlight (formerly Ladies) Classic. But it didn’t stop her also dreaming of a tee time with Woods.
“Tiger because of his remarkable talents and the incredible comeback from injury and he seems to be a much more engaging person to chat with,” Jamieson said. “If Tiger is busy, I would invite Sergio to practice my Spanish and talk about the Ryder Cup.”
Jamieson is no stranger to Pro-Ams, having played at Dubai’s Ladies European Tour stop the last seven years, including in 2016 when she and Josie Tracey qualified after winning the Emirates G.C. Ladies Doubles Matchplay Championship.
“Last year we had a really enjoyable round with LPGA professional Emma Cabrera Bello,” Jamieson recalled before reflecting on her efforts in the Golf Digest ME Classic.
“The challenge was to focus on the game amidst the continuous chat with good company [she played alongside James Williams, the Emirates G.C. pro’s son and new MENA Tour GM Robbie Williams and Golf Digest Middle East publisher David Burke] and pitch the ball close to the hole.
“Recent lessons on the short game with our [Emirates G.C.] head pro Stephen Deane have proven to be a saviour. Thanks, Stephen again… now I need a putting lesson! Absolutely delighted to win this special prize, so will start practising!”
Welgemoed has teed it up in a Pro-Am previously but the Desert Classic start will be at another level, regardless of which European Tour star he is partnered with.
“We were paired with club and teaching pros in the 2007 Peugeot International Pro-Am in Paris but it doesn’t come close to be able to tee it up in the Desert Classic,” said Welgemoed who overcame scoring blobs on the 17th and 18th at the Majlis to play his final four holes in even par, including a brilliant birdie on his final hole when he knocked an 8 iron to seven feet on the par-4 3rd and rolled in the putt for a four-pointer.
“An invite to play in the Dubai Desert Classic Pro-Am with the world’s best players is unreal, something most amateurs can only dream of.”
Scott, who also won the longest drive with what was, coincidently, his very first shot of the Golf Digest Middle East Classic, is in for a unique experience in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s fantastic. I have never played in a Pro-Am and it is something I had always wanted to do. Never in a million years did I expect to win division A and end up in the Pro-Am.”
This story first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Golf Digest Middle East.