Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood look to carry momentum into Dubai Desert Classic

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Fresh off their brilliant victories last week, Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood will look to keep the momentum going when the European Tour rolls into the city for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic starting at Emirates Golf Club from Thursday.

Playing 5,892-km apart, the sizzling duo set the tone for the season with Masters winner and defending champion Garcia racking up an emphatic five-shot win at the Singapore Open and 2017 Race to Dubai winner Fleetwood carving out a dramatic two-shot victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The two will have their work cut out when they join a star-studded field headlined by 10 major winners and three Ryder Cup captains among other European Tour elites, including Ross Fisher, runner-up to Fleetwood last week, and seasoned campaigner Lee Westwood.

Coming off a three-month break from competitive golf as he recovered from a lingering rib injury, McIlroy showed no signs of rust, finishing a credible tied third last week and he will be a nailed-on favourite to match Els’ long-standing record of three wins at Emirates Golf Club.

With multiple players capable of erupting at different times, including ‘The Volcano’ Pat Perez, packing the field, the potential storylines are strong as ever, befitting the ‘Made for Greatness’ tagline of the tournament, now in its 29th year.

Having cracked the top 20 in the world for the first time in his career after his victory at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in October last year, Perez is determined to keep his resurgence steaming ahead on his debut at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

“I have always wanted to see Dubai because of how much it has grown over the years. I have just wanted to see what it looks like. And I have always wanted to play the tournament,” said the 41-year-old American, a self-confessed late-bloomer.

Plotting a way to regain their aura of old will be 2018 European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, Colin Montgomerie and colourful Miguel Angel Jimenez — all former winners of the iconic Dallah Trophy — as they will be joined an exciting crop of youngsters led by Matthew Fitzpatrick looking to match their success.

The tournament has a tradition of encouraging emerging talent and 2018 will be no exception. The top three MENA Tour professionals (Jamie Elson, Henric Sturehed and Luke Joy) along with the leading amateur (Todd Clements) have earned special invitations and they will be joined by Dubai-based Rayhan Thomas, the top ranked amateur in the region, and Moroccan ace Ahmed Marjan.

“All of them will relish the prospect of competing with the world’s best and measuring their skills against players of such proven quality as Garcia, McIlroy and Henrik Stenson,” as Peter Dawson, chairman of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic said.

Setting the mood for an action-packed week will be global superstar Niall Horan, who will be featuring in the Wednesday’s Pro Am alongside his good friend McIlroy in the afternoon shotgun.

The multiple-award winning performer caddied for McIlroy at the Par-3 Contest at the Augusta National in 2015, Niall, but it will be the first time he will be showing off his golfing skills in a curtain-raiser to a major European Tour event.

Meanwhile, a series of activities planned on and off the course will help keep the atmosphere buzzing, giving the event the energy of a Major.

The tournament will wear a ‘Pink’ look on Friday to create breast cancer awareness, especially amongst young people, with the aim of promoting healthy lifestyles in addition to supporting initiatives of Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre, the UAE’s first independent multi-disciplinary medical research centre.

Day tickets for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic are priced at Dh 175. A season pass, which provides access all week, is available for Dh 500. Under-16s gain free entry when accompanied by an adult who is holding a valid ticket. Visit www.omegadubaidesertclassic.com

Pat Perez in action.

Pat Perez in action.

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Angel Yin back into contention at Dubai Ladies Desert Classic

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Angel Yin fired the best round of the day.

Long-hitting American teen sensation Angel Yin fired the day’s best score of a seven-under 65 to haul herself back into contention heading into the final round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Friday.

Yin, who turned 19 in October, made a blistering start, notching up eight birdies, including four in a row from the second, against one bogey to join Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg for a share of second on 10-under, just two shots behind the overnight leader Anne Van Dam, who returned an up-and-down third round of 70.

On Pink Friday, highlighted by a raft of red-figure rounds, a number of players, including Dame Laura Davies, the recent Ricoh Women’s British Open winner In-Kyung Kim and Charley Hull moved up onto an exciting bunched-up leaderboard, with just four shots separating the top 11.

England’s Hull, who finished runner-up to China’s Shanshan Feng last year, and India’s Aditi Ashok, seeking a desert slam of wins in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, were tied for fourth one nine under while Kim and Davies shot matching 66s to move into a six-way tie for sixth on eight under.

England's Charley Hull hit a bogey-free round of 67 on day three.

England’s Charley Hull hit a bogey-free round of 67 on day three.

American Katie Burnett, Laura Jansone of Latvia, Florentyna Parker of England and Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen completed the group, promising a thrilling finish coming down the stretch on Saturday.

“I am really happy with my round. Overall, I stroked it pretty well and made a few putts,” said Yin, who was tied for 10th last year at the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic as a rookie, before going on to represent the United States at this year’s Solheim Cup in Iowa.

“I hit my iron shots really good. Of the four consecutive birdies, three of them were a foot away from the hole, so it was tap-in. Usually, when you start off well, you don’t close it off that well, but I did that,” said Yin, who managed to save par on the 18th after a wayward drive.

Overnight leader Van Dam got off to a decent start with birdies on second and third, but struggled a bit to keep the early momentum going. “It was a bit up and down. There were quite some good things also. On some little shots I struggled a little bit, but I would say overall, two-under is fine,” said the 22-year-old Dutch star, who claimed her maiden win at last year’s Xiamen Open in China.

Perennial contender Davies attributed her third-round 66 to putting. “Ball striking is decent, but it takes the pressure off when you know you don’t have to hit it stiff to make a birdie anymore. So putting, that’s all it is,” said the veteran golfer, who is chasing her first regular tour win in seven years.

Laura Davies also put in a god performance on day three.

Laura Davies also put in a good performance on day three.

“Winning, that’s the only thing you come here for. As unrealistic as people probably think it is, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win.”

Former winner Kim, the 2009 champion, was delighted to remain firmly in contention for a second win in Dubai. “I hit the ball well and gave myself a lot of opportunities. I think it just paid off, staying patient, to birdie the last two holes.”

England’s Hull almost drove the par-4 second and holed the putt from the back edge of the green for an eagle in one of the major highlights of a bogey-free 67. “Played well, but left so many shots out there. Just couldn’t get my putter going at all,” said Hull, acclaimed as one of the finest talents of her generation.

Lindberg, who mixed seven birdies with a bogey, felt there were many players up there with a chance. “Someone is going to go out and play a good round. I’m going to stick to my plan and I’m going to go home and think about what number I’m going to try to reach tomorrow, and that will be my goal,” said the Swede, looking for her first win on Tour.

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ProAm spot with Rory McIlroy and Niall Horan up for grabs at 2018 Dubai Desert Classic

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Dream team: Niall and Rory.

Former One Direction superstar Niall Horan has announced on Tuesday he’ll be coming to Dubai to attend the 29th edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament, taking place at Emirates Golf Club, from Thursday January 25 until Sunday January 28 2018.

The pop singer, who has sold over 70 million records, will for the first-time ever, not be putting his vocals to the test, but instead his golfing skills.

In a post released today on his social channels – the Irish artist announced he will be flying in especially for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic golfing tournament where he will participate in the ProAm on Wednesday January 24 2017, with good friend and pro golfer, Rory McIlroy, who won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 and 2015 and will again compete in the tournament in January.

Having previously caddied for McIlroy at the Par-3 Contest at the Augusta National in 2015, Horan will finally have the chance to play alongside the Ulsterman during the ProAm.

There will be the chance for one lucky winner to play in the ProAm with both McIlroy and Horan. The winner would also win a seven-night stay in Dubai, including flights, plus tickets to each day of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for them and a plus one.

To enter the competition, users must download the VoxGolf app, play nine holes of golf on a VoxGolf registered course and submit their score through the app. If a course is not currently listed on VoxGolf, entrants should email [email protected] and the course will be added within 24 hours, allowing golfers from around the globe the opportunity to take part.

For those who prefer to observe rather than participate, there is the option of attending the Omega ‘Constellation Clinic’ at Emirates Golf Club Driving Range on Friday January 26 at 17:30 which will feature McIlroy, Horan as well pro golfer and internet sensation Paige Spiranac. Attending the clinic will be open to all those who visit the tournament that day.

“I’m delighted to confirm my attendance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January,” said Horan. “It’s an incredible event on the European Tour schedule and I am very much looking forward to playing with my pal Rory in the ProAm and attending the Friday night clinic also. Thanks to Omega and Golf in Dubai for the invite, I’ve not been to Dubai for a while so very much looking forward to returning!”

David Spencer, Tournament Director of Omega Dubai Desert Classic added: “We’re very excited to have Niall and Rory on board for the tournament. Their global celebrity status’ paired with their outstanding golfing experience has prepared us for a large turnout of fans throughout the tournament.

“We’ve got golfing activities that cater to everyone of all ages throughout the tournament, from winning a chance to play in the ProAm with Rory and Niall through the VoxGolf app, to the Omega ‘Constellation Clinic’ where Rory and Paige will teach Niall how to perfect his golfing skills. We’re really looking forward to welcoming golf enthusiasts from around the world who want to visit Dubai and experience a family-friendly day out.”

Players due to compete in the 2018 tournament include: Pat Perez, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Colin Montgomerie and Thomas Bjorn.

Tickets for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic are priced from Dh175 for a daily ticket. Children aged 16 years and under can enter free of charge if accompanied by a paying adult.

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