Joe Miller will ride golf’s greatest commodity – confidence – in tonight’s augural Long Drive World Series event at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The 32-year-old won his second World Long Drive Championships title in Thackerville, Oklahoma in October but his preparation for the bow of the rival series in Dubai has been limited to an indoor simulator and as many outdoor range sessions as the English winter would allow.
“After a winter break it’s been good to be back out hitting although the weather has been restrictive at home. Obviously the form was good at the end of 2016 so we’ll see tomorrow [Friday] evening,” Miller told Golf Digest Middle East.
Miller will peg it up alongside a whose who of the long driving world on the JGE driving range.
Two-time former world champion Tim Burke looms as the major danger although a windy week in Dubai shapes as an equaliser. Also competing are Englishman Lucas Dornan, American and reigning two-time European champion Maurice Allen, Britain’s Brad Pearmain (2016 Italian champion), Serbia’s Ilija Djurdjevic (2016 Portugal champion) Sweden’s Emil Rosberg (2016 Scandinavian champion) and current world No.2 Ryan Steenberg whom Miller toppled in the Oklahoma final last October.
Local interest will focus on Dubai amateur Ricky Domínguez who earned a start in the £50,000 event with a 351.7 yard hit in an eGolf Megastore qualifier.
Miller, whose best competition nudge is 474 yards, admits there is pressure being the reigning world champion but insists he’s up for the early season challenge where he expects Burke to be a particular threat.
“It’s hard work to get to the top so I’d like to stay here. Of course everyone wants to win and it will be tight, especially as we’re into the wind and uphill,” said Miller who clinched the world title with a 423 swat in the final against Steenberg after an earlier 439 yard effort in the semifinals.
“Everyone has a chance due to the heavy wind although Tim Burke probably stands out just a touch.”
Tonight’s event at JGE begins at 5pm and includes the usual long drive razzmatazz including live a DJ, food trucks and pyrotechnics. Entry is free.