Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and four others to watch at the Dubai Desert Classic

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Ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic that starts on Thursday, we look at six star players set to shine.

Who do you think will win?

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RORY MCILROY

World Ranking: 11

2017 Dubai Desert Classic result: DNP

Best results in 2017: Runner-up (BMW SA Open, British Masters)

Last five tournaments: MC-T58-2-T63-T3

Last five years at Dubai: DNP-T9-1-T6-DNP

Few would bet against McIlroy to win his third Dubai Desert Classic title given his impressive third place finish in Abu Dhabi last week following a three month break due to injury.

The Northern Irishman trained in Dubai in the off-season and loves conditions here, and will be a key contender to win again this weekend.

SERGIO GARCIA

World Ranking: 9

2017 Dubai Desert Classic result: Winner

Best results in 2017: Winner (Dubai Desert Classic, The Masters, Andalucia Valderrama Masters)

Last five tournaments: 1-T4-T19-T24-1

Last five years at Dubai: T17-DNP-MC-DNP-1

The reigning Masters champions had a strong start to the season with a win in Singapore.

His adaptation to his new Callaway clubs has been easy and he looks high on confidence after a successful 2017 campaign.

Expect a strong title defence from the Spaniard.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD

World Ranking: 12

2017 Dubai Desert Classic result:
Best results in 2017: Winner (Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, HNA Open de France)

Last five tournaments: T10-T21-6-T3-1

Last five years at Dubai: T10-MC-T47-T50-MC

Fresh from his win in Abu Dhabi last week, the Englishman has to be considered as one of the top five players in the world over the past twelve months – based on form and confidence in pressurised situations.

If he doesn’t finish in the top five, the European No1 is going to embark on the season of his career in 2018 regardless.

A class act.

HENRIK STENSON

World Ranking: 10

2017 Dubai Desert Classic result:

Best results in 2017: Winner (Wyndham Championship)

Last five tournaments:  T51-T2-T35-17-8

Last five years at Dubai: T26-T29-T13-T6-2

The 41-year-old finished second last year on a course he knows like the back of his hand.

A top ten finish in Abu Dhabi last week has sharpened his game and his ball-striking will be a menace as he bids to win the title for a second time.

MATT FITZPATRICK

World Ranking: 28

2017 Dubai Desert Classic result: T5

Best results in 2017: Winner (Omega European Masters)

Last five tournaments: T11-T8-12-T19-T3

Last five years at Dubai: DNP-DNP-MC-T45-T5

Fitzpatrick made a strong start to his season with a third place finish in Abu Dhabi and his game looks in outstanding shape.

The 23-year-old may have missed the cut in 2015 but played superb at the venue last year, finishing in a tie for fifth.

Expect the Sheffield man to finish in the top 10 on Sunday.

PAT PEREZ

World Ranking: 17

2017 Dubai Desert Classic result: DNP

Best results in 2017: Winner (CIMB Classic)

 Last five tournaments: T5-T24-T34-T4-T21

 Last five years at Dubai: DNP-DNP-DNP-DNP-DNP

A late bloomer, 41-year-old Pat Perez is playing the golf of his career.

Having clawed back from shoulder injury, the Arizona native posted seven top-10 finishes in 2017, including victory at CIMB Classic in Malaysia – and recently moved up to 17th in the world rankings.

Could he be a surprise inclusion in Jim Furyk’s Ryder Cup team this year?

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