Dubai Desert Classic: A golf tournament like no other

From thundershowers to off-course controversies to magical birdies and eagles, the DP World Tour event had something to offer everyone

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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Patrick Reed of the US tees off during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic. — AFP
Patrick Reed of the US tees off during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic. — AFP

Published: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 8:58 PM

Golf fans in the region were once again treated to another memorable Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club during a tumultuous week that had more plots and turns than a Hitchcock movie.

From thundershowers to off-course controversies to magical birdies and eagles, the DP World Tour event had something to offer everyone.


With the emergence of players like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy golf has undergone a sea change with younger, stronger, and new-thinking players dominating the sport.

Physical conditioning and a strategic approach have been at the forefront of this exciting generation who have helped to develop and modernized the royal and ancient game of golf that has its origins in China, the Netherlands, or Scotland.


Golf fans were able to identify with the growing trend that the sport is enjoying during another memorable week at the majestic Majlis course, the sporting pride of the UAE.

But first, they had to endure the frustration of not being able to watch the younger generation of golfers led by McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Lucas Herbert, and Callum Shinkwin, due to the catastrophic weather in the lead-up to the much-awaited Rolex Series event.

Heavy rains battered the iconic golf course, designed and built by Karl Litten in the late eighties, for three consecutive days, testing the patience of the players, officials, and fans.

But thanks to the herculean efforts of the golf maintenance team at the Emirates Golf Club, marshaled by course superintendent Matthew Perry, the tournament was rescued and sent on its way a little behind schedule on Thursday, January 26.

With the course swamped by puddles, the organisers had to take the difficult decision of having the opening round played behind closed doors before fans were welcomed back on Friday.

And they came back in droves.

As if buoyed by the return of spectators, the likes of McIlroy, Reed, Ian Poulter, and others were able to raise the level of their game and deliver a golfing experience that the Dubai Desert Classic has come to be recognised and lauded for.

Forget that McIlroy and Reed had a personal rivalry going on the side, for different reasons, the golf was of the highest standards where players were even content to have just finished in fourth place.

The DP World Tour stays in the UAE this week for the Ras al Khaimah Championship from Thursday while many of this week's field head to Saudi Arabia for the Asian Tour's PIF Saudi International.

McIlroy, who made history with his record-equalling third Dubai Desert Classic title, will treat himself to a week off before he returns to the PGA Tour for the WM Phoenix Open from February 9-12 ahead of his appearance at the Genesis Invitational the following week.


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