Ahead of the start of the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday, we look at six players who could sparkle around the Majlis Course.
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World Ranking: 17
Last three results: T4-15-MC
Last three results in Dubai: DNP-DNP-1
The reigning Dubai Desert Classic champion ended up well off the cut line in Abu Dhabi last week, shooting a disappointing five-over 77 in the second round. Tough work in the off-season has seen the California native increase his weight by 11kg in a bid to improve his driving distance. It might take him a while longer to adjust to his larger physique, however, the 26-year-old needs to improve vastly if he is to contend again at the Emirates Golf Club.
World Ranking: 10
Last three results: 1-2-T2
Last three results in Dubai: MC-T6-T16
The world number 10 enjoyed a glittering finish to last season, winning in Sun City and finishing second at the DP World Tour Championship. He started the year in a similar vein, firing a stunning final round 63 to finish in a tie for second in Abu Dhabi. Fleetwood’s consistency is unrivalled, not missing a cut since the French Open in July 2018. The Southport man seems to love conditions in the Emirates, and has all the tools in his armoury to kick-start another devastating season. A formidable display in Dubai could set the tone for a strong run of form before the first major of the year at Augusta in April.
World Ranking: 24
Last three results: T10-9-T2
Last three results in Dubai: T5-MC-T16
The five-time European Tour winner has been consistently talked up as the next big thing in golf. At just 25, the Sheffield man has buckets of talent and has shown quality form around the Majlis course in the past, with a T5 finish in 2017 and a top-20 last year. A clinical finish in Abu Dhabi last week – where he shared second place – should give Fitzpatrick the confidence he needs to challenge at the top of the leaderboard. With it being a crucial Ryder Cup year, early season promise could inspire a strong run of results to help his qualification hopes for Padraig Harrington’s European team in Whistling Straits.
World Ranking: 42
Last three results: T6-MC-T8
Last three results in Dubai: 1-T32-T3
The 2017 champion looks to have turned his form around in recent months after a mixed 2019 where he missed six cuts but won once and recorded an additional nine top-10s. Returning to a course where he has flourished in the past, the Spaniard will be eager to prove himself again. If the 40-year-old can commit to his shots and remain patient, then he could be a force around the Majlis.
World Ranking: 43
Last three results: T17-T20-T12
Last three results in Dubai: T11-T6-MC
The Dubai resident has shown sparkling form around the Majlis in the past, winning in 2012 and finishing second in 2016. Although he missed the cut last season, the 35-year-old is backed by some dazzling form over the past two months with top-20 finishes in Nedbank Golf Challenge, DP World Tour Championship and Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Holding out for 72 holes will be the challenge for the Las Palmas man.
World Ranking: 26
Last three results: 44-1-T23
Last three results in Dubai: T2-T6-MC
The Swede has been a contender at the Desert Classic over the years, winning in 2007 and finishing runner-up in 2017. The 43-year-old used to live behind the golf course so knows its many divots like the back of his hand. While he struggled for much of last campaign, a swap of 3-wood in September has seen him strike the fairways with aplomb. His Hero Challenge victory in the Bahamas last month – a first triumph in over two years – will provide him with the necessary belief to challenge at his old club.
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