Hero Dubai Desert Classic: Perez aims to strike the right balance

Frenchman comes into the DP World Tour’s showpiece event on the back of a big win in Abu Dhabi last week

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Victor Perez of France plays a shot during the final round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at Yas Links. — AFP
Victor Perez of France plays a shot during the final round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at Yas Links. — AFP

Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Tue 24 Jan 2023, 8:13 PM

At 6 foot 6 inches, Frenchman Victor Perez is what you would consider an incredibly tall man. And he has in all probability grown an additional inch or two after winning the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at the Yas Links last week.

However, the talented Eiffel Tower of golf is doing a great job keeping his feet on the ground, notwithstanding the early season success he has gained and which bodes well for this week’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.

Assessing his mindset and expectations heading into the European Tour’s annual showpiece, the 30-year-old golfer who resides in the beautiful Scottish city of Dundee, said it was all about keeping the right balance.

“I think it's going to be challenging balancing that (Abu Dhabi) out because you don't want to feel entitled,” said Perez. “You don't want to feel like, oh, I've won, so now I can relax.

“You kind of can reflect a little bit and think it through, and you realize how big of an event it is and how much it's going to weigh into the balance throughout the season.

“You want to use the win and build on the win,” he added. “But you definitely don't want to start getting a little complacent and start being like, I can get away with this practice or I don't have to do these little things.”

Perez also showcased his strategic thinking skills and ability to regulate his priorities in order to put into context the challenges that he is about to encounter in Dubai and all through the year on the tour.

“I think everybody is too good now,” he acknowledged. “The margins are so small. There's too much information with data and stats and information out there and coaches are becoming really good.”

Perez started playing golf at a very young age and has been connected with the highly-regarded American Academy golf coach Mike Magher, who helps sharpens his skills at the prestigious Biarritz Golf Club in France.

Having already got a feel of playing a desert-style course in Abu Dhabi, Perez is now resetting his skills to tackle the 34-year-old and multiple-award-winning Karl Litten-designed jigsaw puzzle that goes by the name of the Majlis Course, in the company of some of European golf’s biggest stars including world No.1 Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood, and Tommy Fleetwood.

“It's actually one of the rare courses that I've been on the schedule every year, because obviously, it's such an iconic event,” said Perez. “The French Open stopped a couple of years with Covid, and this event was always able to sustain and be on the schedule.

“The course has changed a little bit, but I think it’s a place that everybody enjoys coming to and tries to perform. I had some good results,”

Perez also revealed his uncanny ability to take the good with the bad when he said: “I had a terrible Sunday a couple of year’s back where I shot 79 with a chance to win. We'll see. It's definitely a place that I enjoy playing.”

Hopefully, he has not spoken too soon.

During the next four days, Perez will encounter one of the most iconic and feared holes on the Majlis Course, a par-four 398 test that is part beauty, part beast.

One of the most photographed holes in the world because of the spectacular view that it offers of the Dubai Marina, it tests a player’s prowess off the tee and challenges him to be brave.

Talking about his experience of playing it, Perez said: “It's one of those things where you come to the eighth hole of the Emirates and everybody is talking about it and you think, it's just the 8th hole.

“Then you come in and you can't believe what it is. I think it's even more impressive when you see the pre/post pictures and how Dubai has developed in only 30 years and how this hole has changed from a visual perspective,” he added.

“It is a little intimidating, I'm not going to lie. It's a big hole.”

Summing up, Perez also had kind words to offer the new sponsor of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, Dr. Pawan Munjal, who is the Chairman and CEO of MotoCorp, the market leader in the world’s biggest two-wheeler market, in India.

“I think you can never say enough about Dr. Munjal and what he's done and the help and the link that there is between Hero and the DP World Tour. I think we are in great shape,” said the Frenchman.

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