Defending champion Danny Willett and decorated English compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick will have to overcome the Tiger Woods factor if they are to prosper in the 28th Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Reigning U.S. Masters champion Willett and Fitzpatrick, fresh from capturing the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last November, have been drawn with two-time Desert Classic champion Woods in the marquee threesome for the first 36-holes of the Desert Swing decider.
They are off Emirates Golf Club’s 10th tee at 8.15am Thursday and the 1st tee in Friday’s second round at 12.35pm.
Wherever Woods goes the galleries invariably follow and the madness is often hardest for Tiger’s playing partners to contend with as fans rush for the next vantage point, often before the entire group has holed out.
Open Champion Henrik Stenson, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who was pipped by Fitzpatrick at Jumeirah Golf Estates before Christmas and led through 54-holes in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago, proceed the Woods’ threesome at 8.05am off the 10th tee Thursday.
Dubai-based amateur Rayhan Thomas will make his Desert Classic bow at 8.35am off the 10th alongside Anirban Lahiri and S.S.P Chawrasia in an all Indian threesome.
Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and South Korean Jeunghan Wang, still on a high after winning last week’s Qatar Masters, will command much afternoon attention after teeing off the first at 12.15pm.
Rafa Cabrera Bello, Andy Sullivan and Abu Dhabi champion Tommy Fleetwood are next off the Majlis’ first at 12.25pm. Fleetwood will be looking to rebound from a weekend off at the Qatar Masters after shooting 73-73.