Shane Lowry. Photo by Golffile
An iconic event
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which is the oldest European Tour tournament in the Middle East and the longest-running on the Race to Dubai outside of Europe, returns this week to Emirates Golf Club for its 31st edition.
The venue has hosted the event on all but two occasions, with Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club the only other tournament venue, in 1999 and 2000.
Inside the field
A strong list of European Tour winners headline the field in Dubai this week, including Race to Dubai Champion Lee Westwood and last week's victor Tyrrell Hatton - who moved to a new career-high of fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings following his fourth Rolex Series win in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, Justin Rose and Paul Casey each make their first appearances in this event for over a decade, World Number Four Collin Morikawa tees up for the first time, and last year's runner-up Christiaan Bezuidenhout arrives in Dubai following
two victories and three further top 15s in his last five starts.
It also boasts an impressive history of former champions, 11 of which are in the field this week: Thomas Bjorn (2001), Ernie Els (2005, 2002, 1994), Henrik Stenson (2007), Miguel Angel Jimenez (2010), Alvaro Quiros (2011), Rafa Cabrera-Bello (2012), Stephen Gallacher (2013, 2014), Danny Willett (2016), Sergio Garcia (2017), Haotong Li (2018)Lucas Herbert (2020)
Lucas Herbert returns to defend in Dubai this week after claiming a dramatic play-off victory on Australia Day last year to earn his maiden win.
The Australian, who started the day six shots behind, took advantage of a late mistake from Christiaan Bezuidenhout to force a play-off thanks to back-to-back birdies.
Bezuidenhout seemed to hold the advantage on the first trip back up the 18 when Herbert found the water with his 'worst ever shot', but he managed to scramble a par before going on to hit the longest drive of the tournament at the next and making birdie to win.
Herbert went on to record three further top 10s last season, and comes into this week after finishing in a tie for 25th in Abu Dhabi.
This week, he is looking to follow Stephen Gallacher and become only the 2nd player to defend this title.
Ryder Cup Points
The European Points List re-started last week in the race to qualify for Padraig Harrington’s team to take on the United States at Whistling Straits in September
Seven of the nine players currently occupying the automatic qualification spots are in the field this week – Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton (European Points List), Victor Perez, Danny Willett, Matt Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood and Bernd Wiesberger (World Points List).
The European Tour’s Golf for Good initiative made its return last week for the 2021 season with a brand new initiative - Every Birdie Counts – which will continue at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic
The tournament’s annual Pink Saturday returns, aiming to raise awareness for breast cancer research, with players, caddies, officials, staff and volunteers wearing pink. The 2021 Pink Saturday is in association with the Al Jalila Foundation and in particular the ‘Brest Friends’ programme (spelled brest, with no a), which relies on donations, sponsors and fund-raising activities to raise money for breast cancer treatment and research in the UAE
Golf for Good is a charitable initiative set up by the European Tour upon the resumption of the 2020 Race to Dubai. A total of €1,033,771 was raised last season