IN FOR THE LONG HAUL
Organisers announce Monday finish for Hero Dubai Desert Classic after stars and underdogs provide their own fireworks on the Majlis course on Friday
By Matt Smith – Editor, Golf Digest Middle East
As players came off the course yesterday evening — with first rounds finally completed or just a few holes into Round 2 — it was announced by organisers that the Hero Dubai Desert Classic would conclude on Monday for the first time in history. This morning will see the conclusion of Round 2, with the remaining two rounds held on Sunday and Monday.
Sunday ticket-holders will be granted access to the Monday showdown, with the clubhouse and Dallah Lounge hospitality open from 10am.
Whatever the Hero Dubai Desert Classic lost in the first days due to adverse weather, it has more than made up for in drama as Friday served up a whole host of talking points to captivate the fans set to descend on Emirates Golf Club this weekend.
From world No. 1 wonder shots from Rory McIlroy and major winner Patrick Reed, from big names prowling to underdog stories in the making, the 2023 edition is shaping up to be another classic slice of the Classic, which has had more than its fair share of epic tales to tell over the past 35 years. With another belated start after the rain continued
to linger throughout the night and into Thursday, the gates opened to the public yesterday, and those who braved the remaining showers were rewarded for their dedication to the game.
McIlroy started things off shortly after the 10am start sending home a sensational eagle from the scrub on the 8th hole (his 17th) to set the early firstround clubhouse lead alongside Reed, who matched his six-under 66.
At the close of the first round, it was a Ryder Cup legend in Ian Poulter who shared the lead on seven-under after a flawless 65 with the hottest new property on the scene — world No. 1 amateur Ludvig Aberg. The dark horses were lining up inside the top 10 with South Africa’s Louis de Jager, who flirted with the course record, and Spain’s Angel Hidalgo also finishing on six-under.
Last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Victor Perez made sure he stayed in the picture with a five-under 67 alongside birthday boy Thomas Pieters, who claimed the Rolex Series crown on Yas Links last year. Buckle in, fans, as this roller-coaster has a long ride ahead!
Twists and turns
McIlroy and Reed locked together on the leaderboard. PAGE 3
Perez has eyes on the prize
Abu Dhabi champ aims for unique Rolex Series double. PAGE 4
Spreading the word
DP World aims to make golf accessible to all. PAGE 6
Good Good game
Meet the content creators who are creating a Dubai buzz. PAGE 16
DAILY DRAW SHEET & COURSE MAP
Navigate Emirates Golf Club with your guide to the groups on day 3. PAGE 10-11
SATURDAY | JANUARY 28, 2023
AND OFFICIAL PUBLISHER dubaidesertclassic.com #HeroDDC #RolexSeries dubaidcgolf
Following two days of delays and a deluge in Dubai, the DP World Tour reluctantly took the decision on Friday to move the final round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic to Monday.
As the players completed their first rounds and some made early headway into Round 2 on Friday, it was announced by organisers that the 34th edition of the famous tournament would go over five days for the first time in history, with Round 2 concluding on Saturday before the remaining two rounds would be held on Sunday and Monday.
Mike Stewart, DP World Tour Tournament Director for the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, explained why the decision was made.
“It’s been really tough, and I feel desperately sorry for Emirates Golf Club and the staff here for what they have had to put up with, to deal with, contend with in the last couple of days,” he said.
“But I have to say, I’ve got to take my hat off to them because this is just amazing that we’ve played golf these past two days. To get the golf course ready, their preparation took eight hours yesterday from three in the morning until we actually kicked off, bailing out bunkers, fixing damaged bunker edges.
“We have had one rain stoppage in the past — I looked it up. We had rain and lightning in 2007, and we stopped for two hours, 15 minutes and gone back out again, that was on the Friday, and that’s the only stoppage we’ve had previously for rain. Now we’ve had, what, six hours yesterday, another three this morning. So yes, it’s quite unusual for this venue.
“This is one of the biggest events on the DP
World Tour and we clearly want to make every effort possible to get to 72 holes at one of our biggest championships.
“Currently we are planning to play the third round in a one-tee start, and the final round in a two-tee start to finish a little bit earlier and give us a bit of breathing space in case of anything that goes wrong, so that’s the plan currently. That could change with the weather but the forecast is generally pretty good for the next three days.”
* denotes completed Round 2 holes
Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Group Editor and Managing Partner Ian Fairservice Editor Matt Smith Art Director Clarkwin Cruz Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Publisher David Burke General Manager – Production S. Sunil Kumar Production Manager Binu Purandaran head office Media One Tower, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 427 3000; Fax: +971 4 428 2266 dubai media city SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 390 3550; Fax +971 4 390 4845 Email: email@example.com abu dhabi 14th Floor, Office 1406, Makeen Tower, 9th Street, Al Zahiyah, PO Box 43072, Abu Dhabi, UAE Tel: +971 2 677 2005; Fax: +971 2 657 3401 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org saudi arabia Office 452, Regus Offices, 4th Floor, Al Hamad Tower, King Fahad Road, Al Olaya, Riyadh, KSA Tel: +966 11 834 3595 / +966 11 834 3596 Fax: +966 11 834 3501 Email: email@example.com london Motivate Publishing Ltd, Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London, NW1 3ER, UK Email: firstname.lastname@example.org visit golfdigestme.com for the latest coverage
last of the nasty weather should be behind us before the start of play today, so suncream can hopefully replace the waterproofs. Normal service will properly be resumed on Sunday as clear skies are forecast all day. 21 10 Sat 28th 23 10 Sun 29th
Mike Stewart, DP World Tour Tournament Director for the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, explains decision for moving final day at Hero Dubai Desert Classic By Matt Smith
Images Getty Images, Supplied by Falcon and Associates
BLAND, Richard (ENG) -8 4 POULTER, Ian (ENG) -8 3
HIDALGO, Angel (ESP) -7 7
DE JAGER, Louis (RSA) -6 2 MCILROY, Rory (NIR) -6REED, Patrick* (USA) -6 -
BRUN, Julien* (FRA) -5 7 ABERG, Ludvig* (AM) (SWE) -5 7 HERBERT, Lucas* (AUS) -5 3 PEREZ,
Rank Name (Country) Par Hole* 1
THE RORY AND REED SHOW
Superstars get the eagles flying to finish off Round
By Matt Smith
Four days on from their brief interaction on the Emirates Golf Club range, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed were locked together again — this time on the leaderboard as the world No. 1 and the 2018 Masters champion concluded their first rounds in matching six-under 66s, adding to the spice of an already thrilling 34th Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
With a Monday finale looming, the golfing giants jostled for position, and it was McIlroy who made the first move, while Reed pounced at the end.
McIlroy had three holes remaining from Thursday and seemed like a man in a hurry to get out of the looming showers. Having made what turned out to be the correct decision not to attempt the four-foot putt he had for birdie on the short seventh (his 16th) late on Thursday evening, the four-time major champion returned to make his birdie. What followed was epic. Having leaked his drive at the famous eighth hole into the scrub on the left, McIlroy holed out with a stunning eagle, with a hop and a skip and a plonk.
“I struggled out there most of yesterday,” he said when he was in from the relative cold.
“I thought I did well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first 14 holes.
“Today I came out and I don’t really know if anything clicked because I don’t think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed. I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus.
“The eagle was certainly a bonus. All I was thinking about was catching it clean. My tendency out of those lies is to hit it a little bit heavy. As soon as I struck it, I knew it came out really nicely and it was right down the pin. Again, anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus.”
Reed’s bonus came right at the end as he eagled the 18th.
“I’m obviously really happy with the way I played,” he said, clearly in a better mood than last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where he missed the cut. “I felt like last week wasn’t really a reflection of all the hard work I’ve been doing in the offseason. It was more about betting rid of the rust and playing tournament golf.
“So to come out this week and feel like I was able to put everything together and to have my mind right on game planning and course management was definitely a plus. I’ve never seen this place before, and coming in and seeing it for the first time realising that it’s more of a positional golf course rather than just hit it wherever, and I feel like I had full control of the golf ball and made a couple of good putts.”
Reed also took time out to praise the ground staff to get the course playable.
“They have done an unbelievable job,” he said. “With just the conditions, we’re in the desert and we don’t expect it to rain, and with how much it has rained and for them to get the golf course to not just playable but to get it where it’s in really good shape is amazing. It shows how great they are at their craft.”
To come out this week and put everything together is definitely a plus
PEREZ’S PRIZE GOAL
Victor Perez followed up his sensational victory in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a great start to the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, posting a flawless five-under 67, to remain in touch ot the top of a crowded leaderboard.
With a unique back-to-back Rolex Series double in his sights, the Frenchman is keeping his feet on the ground as it is still early days.
“Obviously I was playing very well going into this week but it’s never easy because obviously there’s maybe a bit more expectation,” he said after finishing in a tie for seventh at the end of play on Friday. “You haven’t got maybe as good a preparation as you are used to because I had a few extra things to do at the start of the week as the winner, which I wasn’t used to, but I’ll take it.”
With a Monday finish coming up, Perez is prepared for a grind on the course.
“I am still recovering a little but we are very fortunate on tour to have the physios put on an ice bath for us, and the guys have really started to use that a lot more. It allows you to recover as best as you can because it’s going to be a long week.”
To that end, Perez also makes sure his diet is right to keep focus on the course.
“To stay sharp out there, it is more about more food and hydration,” he said. “It’s very difficult I think for most guys to eat on the course and you have to have trial and error and see what you like, see what makes you as steady as possible.
“I think the hydration and the nutrition are key on those days because you can be out there for 10 hours. I think some of the afternoon guys today that didn’t play yesterday are going to be out for a long haul. We had a 30-minute break to just grab something, and you want to make sure you’re not jamming yourself with a bunch of sugar or anything that might make you be a bit more up and down. All these little things add up, and hopefully I’ll get them right.”
I had a few extra things to do at the start of the week as the winner, which I wasn’t used to, but I’ll take it
4 PLAYER FOCUS
Frenchman targeting a unique Rolex Series double
Pieters gets in the party mood
Thomas Pieters had a double reason to celebrate yesterday as his five-under kept him at the right end of the leaderboard at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, before heading off to mark his 31st birthday in Dubai.
The 2022 Abu Dhabi HSBC Champion is back in contention at a DP World Tour Rolex Series tournament after his opening five-under 67, which included seven birdies and two bogeys, placed him two behind Round 1 leaders Ian Poulter and amateur Ludvig Aberg.
“Yesterday [Thursday] when I started my first round it was really good. I putted really nicely, and then this morning I just made sure I kind of did the same thing all over again. I hit it close on the 7th hole to make a birdie, that was a really good putt. However, I then pulled my drive on the ninth and that led to a bogey.
“That rough is very juicy, so it will be tough out there as we go on.”
Pieters admitted to a little ring rust.
“Following some time off, I didn’t feel that great but it is coming back slowly,” he said. “The ball-striking is coming back. The putting is good, so hopefully if the ball-striking gets back to normal, we can do some fun things.”
As for those birthday plans, it will be family first.
“I want to say I am going to relax by the pool but I am sure it will be down to the trampoline park or something,” he conceded with smile.
Spanish star Angel Hidalgo rode into the reckoning with an opening six-under 66 at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and was delighted to get in the mix on such a big stage.
“It was amazing,” the world No. 315, who is looking for a first DP World Tour win, said. “I didn’t start hitting the ball so good but I made a great birdie on 18 [his ninth]. That gave me a lot of confidence and I start playing much better on the back nine with five birdies. I took a bogey on the last but that hole was hitting so long, sometimes you just have to sign for a five.
“To see my name up there alongside Rory McIlroy is pretty cool. That’s why I made bogey, to be close to him,” he added with a laugh. “It’s my rookie year but I have the confidence to know I can play with Rory and the rest of the players.”
By Matt Smith
Around two years ago, the European Tour set out on a journey with its new sponsor on board and the DP World Tour, as we now know it, set sail — growing exponentially on the course in terms of quality, prize money and popularity.
As we arrive back at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, behind the scenes, the same driving force is spreading the word of golf in a quest to make the game accessible to all age groups across the UAE and beyond.
“I think we have put the structures in place,” says Danny van Otterdijk, Chief Communications Officer of Group Communications at DP World, and a man who has been passionate about the growth of the game since the logistics company got into golf two years ago.
“We have a really good working relationship with KHDA [Knowledge and Human Development Authority] in Dubai and they are supporting us to allow golf to become part of the extracurricular activities that kids can get access to.
“Traditionally they are allowed to do football and swimming and rugby and cricket — all the mainstream sports that you think about — but we want to make sure golf joins them. Our thinking
is, with a broader, wider base at the bottom, with thousands of players rather than the hundreds we have now, the chances of youngsters getting to the top and being competitive on the DP World Tour and maybe winning this tournament or the DP World Tour Championship is much, much greater. That is our aim.
“If you look at other countries like the United Kingdom or Spain, they have such a wide base of players at the bottom, it is no wonder that they have so many players in the top 50 or 100 in the world, and that is what you need, because if you don’t have that base,
your pickings are much slimmer and the chances of getting someone to the top is much less.”
Getting a club into the kids’ hands for the first time is vital to unlock a love for the game and — potentially — discover a talent that would have otherwise gone unearthed, with the school programmes and new initiatives such as the Tommy Fleetwood Academy at Jumeirah Golf Estates helping open the door to all.
“If you look at Dubai and the facilities we have here at Emirates Golf Club, at Jumeirah Golf Estates, at Trump and Els and all the others that we have, everything is in place for youngsters to get involved in the game of golf,” says Van Otterdijk. “The Fleetwood Academy was just another piece in that puzzle to get youngsters involved and be inspired by someone like Tommy, who maybe didn’t come from the traditional base of where you look for golfers.
“He built his first academy in his home town in the north-west of England and we spoke to Tommy about it as it was a perfect platform to attract youngsters to the game out here.
“We have a lot more to do, but we are getting there with the help of the educational authorities, the clubs, the schools, to ensure we get all the pieces in place that allow kids of all backgrounds the chance to get into the game and pick up a club, removing the barriers people may consider or have encountered in the past.”
This DP World vision of inclusivity is not restricted to the UAE either, with initiatives also being set-up in places such as Africa.
“We have been speaking to a number of governments around Africa where we operate — Rwanda, Senegal or Tanzania and Angola — where there are some really good golf courses, but it is still not a mainstream sport,” says Van Otterdijk. “We believe Africa could be the next bastion for unearthing great golfers. We recently took Victor Manucho, the Angola No. 1, to a DP World Tour event in South Africa — the Nedbank — to show, with the right mindset and the right willpower you can achieve great things, regardless of your upbringing. When he didn’t have the equipment, he put in the graft and he shows that there is a crop of
DP World reaches out to make golf more accessible to all
Taking the game of golf to children of all abilities and backgrounds is central to DP World’s vision
Golf balls that have been donated to the DP World container
Year DP World took on the European Tour title sponsorship
6 NEXT STEPS
Danny van Otterdijk, left, is passionate about raising the profile of golf in the UAE and beyond
youngsters out there waiting to be discovered, given the chance and the equpment to do them justice.”
“We are actively looking for opportunities in places like Rwanda to possibly find the next African Masters champion.”
Fans familiar with the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and DP World Tour Championship over the past couple of years will spot a familiar sight at Emirates Golf Club this week — the DP World Tour container. Created to help raise awareness of sustainability and help play the game forward to those less fortunate, the goal was to see is tournament-going fans could fill an entire shipping container with useable, found golf balls for re-use around the world.
“I have to give all the credit to my team who came up with this idea,” admits Van Otterdijk. “When they first suggested it I was a bit cautious, thinking: ‘That is a heck of a lot of golf balls, how are we going to do that?’ But lo and behold, I have been blown away with its popularity — obviously containers are our main way or moving cargo — and filling it with recovered, lost or discarded golf balls has really captured the imagination.
“If you look out here at the lake on
the 18th green at EGC, imagine how many balls are in there, for example. We have had divers in retrieving them, fans finding balls in bushes, donating old ones they no longer want. We have collected way over 100,000 from the 30-odd tournaments where the container has been and we ship them out to places in Africa and Latin America where golf balls are harder to get, and people like Victor can benefit from this. It went further and bigger than I could ever have imagined.”
So, if you spot a ball in the rough or scrub on the course this weekend, pop it in the container in Tournament Town — just make sure it isn’t a player’s.
Above & left: DP World brought Victor Manucho to the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa to raise awareness of the game Top right: The now famous DP World container has already received way over 100,000 golf balls
We have a lot more to do, but we are getting there with the help of educational authorities, clubs and schools
SMART LOGISTICS TO A TEE
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By Matt Smith
There are very few people you could ever meet who have as fascinating backstory as Valentino Dixon.
The “Artist of Attica” spent 27 years in jail for a crime he did not commit — he was released in 2018 after the real perpetrator confessed to the murder — and turned to drawing during his darkest days in prison.
When the now 54-year-old was locked up inside one of America’s most brutal maximum security prisons, with only a few Golf Digest magazines for inspiration, he picked up a pencil and began to draw (brushes and canvas were not available, so he worked on card).
He spent his time — decades — in Attica prison drawing, perfecting his style over the many, many years. Wonderful, unique depictions of famous golf courses such as Augusta, Pebble Beach and the Country Club in Brookline emerged over the years — as did some of the most famous courses in Dubai, a city that had found a special place in Dixon’s heart.
Five years after his walk to freedom, Dixon first visited the UAE city that captivated him, and now he is at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, drawing the famous Majlis Course in person, a landscape he first glimpsed in his prison cell.
“In prison you live in a dream sometimes. You live in your own world,” he said. “And you look for anything that can give you inspiration. Something that can give you hope, something that can invigorate your spirit. And looking at pictures of Dubai during my time, it had to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life.”
Seeing the course up-close-andpersonal came with a dawning realisation for Dixon.
“I started drawing my current piece for the Dubai Desert Classic and Emirates Golf Club while I was still in America, getting some prep work done, but when I got here and I saw the skyline, I was like: ‘Hmmm, I’m
gonna need to make some changes. I have had to add and take away from the drawing now I see it all in person. Images only give me so much detail, so to be here and get the overall feel helps me create the perfect picture.”
Like most people this week, the weather also caused a few issues — along with a bizarre technical issue.
“There was a little improvisation as the light changed on Wednesday and it got a lot gloomier, but the good thing is the picture was around 90 per cent completed so I was able to keep going. Unfortunately my pencil sharpener [Dixon has continued to use the same medium and materials from his time in prison] ‘blew up’ so I had another issue. Fortunately, I keep all my pencils extra sharp and I had enough of a point on them to keep going.”
While volatile ‘artistes’ would fly into a rage at such problems, they are just trivialities to the laidback Dixon, who knows better than most what really matters in life.
“The hotel is much better this time around,” he jokes. “I checked myself into a cheap hotel when I first visited here in October, but this time, they are putting me up in the Atlantis on The Palm, with this beautiful view across my favourite city. So, a work-out, a swim and a relaxing time before I get back to my work is on the cards.”
‘Artist of Attica’ Valentino Dixon realises dream to draw Majlis Course at Hero Dubai Desert Classic
When I got here and I saw the skyline, I was like: ‘Hmmm, I’m gonna need to make some changes. I have had to add and take away from the drawing now I see it all in person
UAE golf courses Valentino Dixon had drawn from photos before his arrival in Dubai
The year the inaugural Dubai Desert Classic took place in the UAE
8 DRAWING HOPE
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Order of Play SATURDAY
JANUARY 28, 2023
*Denotes already on course
Plan the day watching your favourite players with this guide to the groupings and tee times.
1. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Marcel SCHNEIDER (GER) -1
◼ Angel HIDALGO (ESP) -6
◼ Marc WARREN (SCO ) +2
2. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Oliver BEKKER (RSA) -1
◼ Ross FISHER (ENG) E
◼ Marcus HELLIGKILDE (DEN ) -2
3. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Zander LOMBARD (RSA) +1
◼ Adrian OTAEGUI (ESP) -1
◼ Hennie DU PLESSIS (RSA ) -4
4. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Ashun WU (CHN) -1
◼ Sean CROCKER (USA) -3
◼ Henrik STENSON (SWE ) -2
5. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) -2
◼ Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN) +1
◼ Jeff WINTHER (DEN ) +2
6. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Alexander LEVY (FRA) -2
◼ Richard BLAND (ENG) -5
◼ Andrew JOHNSTON (ENG ) E
7. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Jason SCRIVENER (AUS) -1
◼ Ian POULTER (ENG) -7
◼ Espen KOFSTAD (NOR ) +3
8. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Calum HILL (SCO) -2
◼ Louis DE JAGER (RSA) -6
◼ VAN DRIEL, Darius (NED ) E
9. TIME* HOLE 1
◼ Joost LUITEN (NED) -2
◼ Daan HUIZING (NED) -3
◼ Søren KJELDSEN (DEN ) +5
10. TIME 07:45 HOLE 1
◼ Issa ABOU EL ELA (AM) (EGY) +3
◼ Niklas NØRGAARD (DEN) -3
◼ Santiago TARRIO (ESP ) +3
11. TIME 07:55 ♦ HOLE 1
◼ Jacques KRUYSWIJK (RSA) -3
◼ Johannes VEERMAN (USA) -1
◼ JC RITCHIE (RSA ) +6
12. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ Chase HANNA (USA) -2
◼ Ockie STRYDOM (RSA) E
◼ Julien BRUN (FRA ) -2
13. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ Edoardo MOLINARI (ITA) +2
◼ Ludvig ABERG (AM) (SWE) -7
◼ Matthieu PAVON (FRA ) +1
14. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ Luke DONALD (ENG) -2
◼ Jorge CAMPILLO (ESP) -2
◼ Sebastian SÖDERBERG (SWE ) +4
15. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ Tyrrell HATTON (ENG) E
◼ Francesco MOLINARI (ITA) E
◼ Shane LOWRY (IRL ) -2
16. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ Adrian MERONK (POL) +2
◼ Sepp STRAKA (AUT) +1
◼ Ewen FERGUSON (SCO ) -1
17. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ Jordan SMITH (ENG) +4
◼ Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) +2
◼ Thorbjørn OLESEN (DEN ) -2
18. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ Rasmus HØJGAARD (DEN) -1
◼ Rafa CABRERA BELLO (ESP) +5
◼ Lucas HERBERT (AUS ) -3
19. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ Dan BRADBURY (ENG) +1
◼ Thriston LAWRENCE (RSA) -2
◼ Grant FORREST (SCO ) -1
20. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ George COETZEE (RSA) +3
◼ Maximilian KIEFFER (GER) +1
◼ Alexander BJÖRK (SWE ) -3
21. TIME* HOLE 10
◼ James MORRISON (ENG) E
◼ Marcus KINHULT (SWE) -2
◼ Justin WALTERS (RSA ) E
22. TIME 07:45 ♦ HOLE 10
◼ Daniel HILLIER (NZL) -1
◼ Tapio PULKKANEN (FIN) -2
◼ Mikael LINDBERG (SWE) +1
23. TIME 10:50 HOLE 1
◼ Tom MCKIBBIN (NIR) +2
◼ Nicolai VON DELLINGSHAUSEN (GER) -1
◼ Matthew SOUTHGATE (ENG) -1
24. TIME 11:00 HOLE 1
◼ Thomas BJØRN (DEN) -2
◼ Oliver WILSON (ENG) -4
◼ Richie RAMSAY (SCO) -2
25. TIME 11:10 HOLE 1
Miguel Ángel JIMÉNEZ (ESP) +1
Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) -2
Antoine ROZNER (FRA) -1
26. TIME 11:20 HOLE 1
◼ Rory MCILROY (NIR) -6
◼ Ryan FOX (NZL) -3
◼ Tommy FLEETWOOD (ENG) -4
27. TIME 11:30 HOLE 1
◼ Victor PEREZ (FRA) -5
◼ Thomas PIETERS (BEL) -5
◼ Min Woo LEE (AUS) +1
28. TIME 11:40 HOLE 1
◼ Padraig HARRINGTON (IRL) +9
◼ Eddie PEPPERELL (ENG) +3
◼ Nicolai HØJGAARD (DEN) -2
29. TIME 11:50 HOLE 1
◼ Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) -1
◼ Pablo LARRAZÁBAL (ESP) +1
◼ Matt WALLACE (ENG) -4
30. TIME 12:00 HOLE 1
◼ Adri ARNAUS (ESP) -5
◼ Guido MIGLIOZZI (ITA) +1
◼ Stephen GALLACHER (SCO) +3
31. TIME 12:10 HOLE 1
◼ Sami VÄLIMÄKI (FIN) +4
◼ Yannik PAUL (GER) +2
◼ Richard MANSELL (ENG) -3
32. TIME 12:20 HOLE 1
◼ Joakim LAGERGREN (SWE) +4
◼ David LAW (SCO) -1
◼ Fabrizio ZANOTTI (PAR) -3
33. TIME 12:30 HOLE 1
◼ Victor DUBUISSON (FRA) +2
◼ Nacho ELVIRA (ESP) E
◼ Nathan KIMSEY (ENG) +1
34. TIME 10:50 HOLE 10
◼ Jeremy FREIBURGHAUS (SUI) +5
◼ Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) E
◼ Lukas NEMECZ (AUT) +1
35. TIME 11:00 HOLE 10
◼ Matthew JORDAN (ENG) -4
◼ Daniel GAVINS (ENG) -4
◼ Wil BESSELING (NED) +2
36. TIME 11:10 HOLE 10
◼ Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) -3
◼ Justin HARDING (RSA) -2
◼ Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) E
37. TIME 11:20 HOLE 10
◼ Patrick REED (USA) -6
◼ Gavin GREEN (MAS) +2
◼ Scott JAMIESON (SCO) E
38. TIME 11:30 HOLE 10
◼ Callum SHINKWIN (ENG) -1
◼ Romain LANGASQUE (FRA) -3
◼ Dale WHITNELL (ENG) -1
39. TIME 11:40 HOLE 10
◼ Shaun NORRIS (RSA) -1
◼ Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) -1
◼ Hurly LONG (GER) +4
40. TIME 11:50 HOLE 10
◼ Mikko KORHONEN (FIN) E
◼ Abraham ANCER (MEX) +2
◼ John CATLIN (USA) E
41. TIME 12:00 HOLE 10
◼ Aaron COCKERILL (CAN) +1
◼ Julien GUERRIER (FRA) -3
◼ Connor SYME (SCO) -4
42. TIME 12:10 HOLE 10
◼ Paul WARING (ENG) -1
◼ Michael THORBJORNSEN (AM) (USA) -2
◼ Marcus ARMITAGE (ENG) -3
43. TIME 12:20 HOLE 10
◼ Andy SULLIVAN (ENG) -2
◼ Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) E
◼ Alexander KNAPPE (GER) +3
44. TIME 12:30 HOLE 10
◼ Jack SENIOR (ENG) E
◼ Jens DANTORP (SWE) -3
◼ Jeunghun WANG (KOR) -4
10 DRAW SHEET
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Al Khail Metro Station Main Entranc e Tournament Town Clubhouse TV Compound General Parking Public Access PL EB VIP TG MC MV D GENERAL PUBLI C C A B E KZ DR EN MT PL EB DR VIP MC KZ Ticketing G eneral Public Access Toilet s M erchandise G iant Screen Scoreboard Public Catering Public Grandstand s Water Dispenser Walking Path Parking Area M edical Kid’s Zone Players’ Loung e Essences Bar Driving Rang e Hospitality M edia Centre Top Golf Members Deck EGC Members Terrace ENBD Card Holders Dec k M arshals / Volunteers Solar Panels Taxis Careem TG MV EN MT # YDS MTRS PAR # YDS MTRS PAR 1 469 429 4 10 549 502 5 2 351 321 4 11 169 155 3 3 601 550 5 12 476 435 4 4 180 165 3 13 554 507 5 5 451 412 4 14 434 397 4 6 485 443 4 15 190 174 3 7 186 170 3 16 463 423 4 8 459 420 4 17 359 328 4 9 488 446 4 18 564 516 5 OUT 3670 3356 35 IN 3758 3437 37 TOTAL 7428 6793 72 MAP 11
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Hollie Murphy, the founder of ‘Heroes of Hope’ — a non-profit group developing sporting, social and interpersonal skills for people of determination in Dubai and across the UAE — explains her vision
How did your relationship with Hero Dubai Desert Classic come about? Heroes of Hope is very active in the community offering daily sports and fitness activities for PODs [people of determination] as well as regularly attending various sporting events at the weekend. From having this positive presence in the community, Hero Dubai Desert Classic got in touch to explore how the event might offer our Heroes a very special opportunity to be part of the tournament.
What do you think the relationship offers your athletes? Acceptance. It is fantastic to see our Heroes being accepted and celebrated in the golfing community. It allows them to be the true version of themselves and shows people they too can play golf, that they belong and have a place in this sport. More importantly, it gives them a unique sporting experience, giving them an opportunity to try something completely new, where they are challenged, but equally, they are successful. Furthermore, they had the best time here, meeting coaches, bonding, and enjoying the state-of-the-art facilities. I think the families in particular have been blown away by such a wonderful opportunity for their children learning new skills, a new sport and making new friends.
What have been some of the highlights for you so far in terms of the relationship? There have been multiple highlights, but I think a stand-out moment was when Emirates Golf Club Captain Campbell Steedman awarded a golf glove to one of our Heroes, Marwan, for his incredible work that session. It was fantastic to see Marwan being recognised. Marwan has truly fallen in love with the game of golf. You will often catch him trying to do extra practice at Top Golf.
A highlight, too, was seeing the brilliant progress all our Heroes have made on a weekly basis and seeing them dive into every new skill with enthusiasm and determination. Finally, they had the great fortune to meet and practise with Thomas Pieters, something that they were all so thrilled about.
• Heroes of Hope is the charity partner of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
• Hero Dubai Desert Classic has run three golf clinics with the Peter Cowen Academy at the Emirates Golf Course with coaches Olivia Jackson, Mark Bruce and Alastair Brown
• Heroes of Hope works with athletes as young as four and has been a partner of the Al Jalila Foundation since 2020.
IN FRAME? 13
Adrian Otaegui tees off on the first hole amid the crowds
There were no shortage of spectators to watch Tyrrell Hatton in action yeterday
Ian Poulter punches the air after finishing with a chip-in birdie
Photographers try to get the perfect snap of Rory McIlroy
Ryan Fox receives the 2022 Players’ Player of the Year Award
The road and the miles to
fourth appearance in a DP World Tour event, the winner of last year’s Ben Hogan Award as college player of the year is playing in the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Club.
Just for the record, Dubai is 4,213 miles from Eslov. Which sounds like a lot until you realise the city is all of 8,101 miles from Lubbock.
So Aberg gets around, along the way ticking many of the boxes those destined for the top of the game tend to achieve. Already, before he turns professional June 1 (immediately after the NCAA Championship at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale), his résumé is bulging with high attainment.
In 2019, two years before he would be runner-up in the European Amateur Championship, Aberg was part of the Swedish side that won the European Team Championship. A year later, stuck at home during the pandemic, he won twice on Sweden’s Nordic League, beating a host of DP World and Challenge Tour players.
“COVID wasn’t too bad in Sweden, at least in terms of how much golf we could play,” Aberg says. “I came home in March 2020 and played almost every day. By the time the Nordic League got going, I was ready to go. It was probably the first time I realised I was good enough to win events.
“My game has improved hugely during my time in college,” he adds. “The courses in America are harder, as is the competition. The players are better. I’ve been exposed to difficult courses and tough players. It would have been impossible to simulate that in Sweden. It’s a long winter. The courses are not in great shape much of the time, so it’s hard to work on your game. Plus, in Texas I’ve got an education.
Star amateur Ludvig Aberg is clocking up the air miles as he shines at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic
There are many miles between Eslov in Sweden and Lubbock in Texas, 5,178 to be exact. And the two cities have little in common. Eslov’s population maxes out around 25,000, which represents maybe a tenth of the people who make their homes on the southern end of the High Plains. Historic castles are a feature of Eslov’s landscape. Lubbock is perhaps most notable as the birthplace of the late, great rock-n-roller Buddy Holly.
But the two do have one thing in common: Ludvig Aberg, the No. 1-ranked men’s amateur golfer in the world who posted a first-round 65 to take a share of the lead at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on Friday. Born in Eslov, the 23-year-old is close to completing a business marketing degree at Texas Tech, which has occupied the time in Lubbock that hasn’t been spent as a stand-out on the golf team.
That fact, and his position atop the PGA Tour University Velocity Global ranking of top college seniors, has taken Aberg even further afield this week. In what will be his
“Let’s say I was a zero when I arrived in Lubbock,” he continues. “So I’m probably a six/seven now. I’ve grown as a player. I understand my game and I’m a smarter player now. The more golf I’ve played, the better I’ve become. I’ve learned and understand the game more. And playing with better players means I’ve been able to pick up a lot from them. Hopefully, I can keep doing that on tour.”
Aberg is a long way from home feeling right at home. While some amateurs look like, well, amateurs when they tee-up in tour events, the same cannot be said of Aberg. In practice in Dubai on Tuesday alongside England’s Matthew Jordan and Germany’s Nicolai Von Delleinghausen, Aberg looked every inch a pro — and it shone through on Friday.
“This week will be a great test for me before I turn pro,” he says. “In the tournaments I’ve played in the past, I’ve been exposed to the next level.
“When I started college that was true, too. It was a step up for me. Now this is the next level again. I’ll see what the players are doing, while still playing my own game. I’m here to play golf and I want to make sure it is good golf.”
There are, inevitably, many more miles to travel. Before the Classic was moved to a fifth day, Aberg was to board a 16.5-hour flight to Dallas (8,024 miles away). When he finally gets there, he will then spend three days in Lubbock (346 miles from Dallas) before flying to Hawaii for his first college event of 2023. That’s another 3,407 miles on a journey that, one suspects, is just getting ready to start.
14 YOUNG GUN
As the tournament’s Patron and Oﬃcial Publisher, Motivate Media Group has been there every step of the way. That’s every drive, every putt and every shot covered since 1989.
Tthe hottest golfing social media movement, who are busy creating a buzz at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
Good Good Golf is a group of content creators with more than 1.1 million subscribers on YouTube, who post all sorts of golf-related shenanigans online — sometimes with celebrities involved in their challenges — and have even launched their own apparel and accessories brand.
Not bad for a bunch of twentysomethings who started out on their journey in 2020 in Texas.
Filming their time in the UAE for their channels, Garrett, Stephen, Matt, Bubbie and Luke certianly got their week off to a flying start as they teamed up with Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston to win the Hero Dubai Desert Classic Pro-Am on Tuesday.
“It’s been a great time so far,” said Bubbie, explaining how it all began. “I was in college when I started ‘Bubbie Golf’. I love entertaining and I love the game of golf, so I decided to combine the two and I have been blessed enough to find success and a career in the two. I started out with some trick shots, which got picked up and reposted online and it went from there. I ended up meeting the other [Good Good] guys and now we all live
together in Texas having a blast making content full-time. It is a blessed life.” Garrett concurred. “I started out in 2016 and up to a point I was playing a lot of competitive golf with the goal of playing on the PGA Tour,” he said. “But I got into Instagram and started doing some trick shots, I started posting my footage online and it began to grow and grow. I grew up with [fellow Good Good Guys] Matt and Stephen and so we started filming together and that’s how we got into the YouTube scene and the company grew out of that, with Bubbie and the team growing from there. The rest is history.”
This history is embryonic, however, as Bubbie explained.
“We are only just starting our journey,” he said. “We have a lot more we want to accomplish and a lot more people we want to get into the game of golf.
“That is what we love about all this. — when someone comes up and says: ‘Hey, you got me into the game during Covid. I love what you do. It really inspired me to get into the game.’ The fact our content brings them such joy is what we do it for and will continue to do on our @goodgood YouTube channel and beyond.
The Good Good Guys bring their unique brand to the UAE
By Matt Smith
“This is our first trip of the year and we have a lot more in store.”
Matt, who was part of Beef’s winning Pro-Am team, added: “Two days before the game I played terrible, so I was dreading it. But Beef was there and he was an amazing guy with this energy and was super cool all at once, and once we were vibing it was great.
“Seeing Beef play phenomenal golf after a time out was great — I think he hit four birdies in a row — was just brilliant fun.”
Fun being the operative word where these Guys are concerned.
We’re only just starting our journey We have a lot more we want to achieve
16 CONTENT CREATORS
SATURDAY 09:00 - 17:00 Graffiti Artist 10:00 - 18:00 Caricaturist 10:00 - 17:30 Roaming Performances 10:20 - 10:50 Sustainability DIY Workshop 11:10 - 11:40 Sustainability Seed Bombs Workshop 12:00 - 12:30 Sustainability Urban Farming Workshop 12:50 - 13:20 Sustainability Sustainable Lucky Wheel 13:40 - 14:10 Sustainability DIY Workshop 14:30 - 15:00 Sustainability Seed Bombs Workshop 16:00 - 16:30 Sustainability Urban Farming Workshop 17:30 - 18:00 Sustainability Sustainable Lucky Wheel 18:00 - 23:00 Live Music SUNDAY 09:00 - 17:00 Graffiti Artist 10:00 - 18:00 Caricaturist 10:20 - 10:50 Sustainability DIY Workshop 11:10 - 11:40 Sustainability Seed Bombs Workshop 12:00 - 12:30 Sustainability Urban Farming Workshop 12:50 - 13:20 Sustainability Sustainable Lucky Wheel 13:40 - 14:10 Sustainability DIY Workshop 14:30 - 15:00 Sustainability Seed Bombs Workshop 18:00 - 23:00 Live Music ACTIVATION 17
THE CHAMPIONS Classic
Eamonn Darcy, 1990 Seve Ballesteros, 1992 Ernie Els, 1994; José Coceres, 2000
Rory McIlroy, 2009 Sergio Garcia, 2017
Lowest 18-hole score 61 (-11), Ernie Els, 1994
Lowest first 18-hole score 61 (-11), Ernie Els, 1994
Lowest first 36-hole score 128 (-16), Tiger Woods, 2001
Lowest first 54-hole score
Lowest 72-hole score
1989 Mark James beat Peter O’Malley
1992 Seve Ballesteros beat Ronan Rafferty
1997 Richard Green beat Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam
2006 Tiger Woods beat Ernie Els
2010 Miguel Ángel Jiménez beat Lee Westwood
2020 Lucas Herbert beat Christiaan Bezuidenhout
2022 Victor Hovland beat Richard Bland
Ernie Els: 1994, 2002, 20053 7
195 (-21), Stephen Gallacher, 2013
64 (-8), Bryson DeChambeau, 2019
(-24), Bryson DeChambeau, 2019 Lowest under par winning score
Lowest final round by a winner
Bryson DeChambeau 2019
18 1989 - Mark James 277 (-11) 1990 - Eamonn Darcy 276 (-12) 1992 - Seve Ballesteros 272 (-16) 1993 - Wayne Westner 274 (-14) 1994 - Ernie Els 268 (-20) 1995 - Fred Couples 268 (-20) 1996 - Colin Montgomerie 270 (-18) 1997 - Richard Green 272 (-16) 1998 - José Maria Olazábal 269 (-19) 1999 - David Howell 275 (-13) 2000 - José Cóceres 274 (-14) 2001 - Thomas Bjørn 266 (-22)
- Ernie Els 272 (-16)
Robert-Jan Derksen 271 (-17)
Mark O’Meara 271 (-17)
Ernie Els 269 (-19)
Tiger Woods 269 (-19)
Henrik Stenson 269 (-19)
- Tiger Woods 274 (-14)
- Rory McIlroy 269 (-19)
- Miguel Ángel Jiménez 277 (-11)
- Álvaro Quirós 277 (-11) 2012
Rafa Cabrera Bello 270 (-18)
Gallacher 266 (-22)
2013 - Stephen
2014 - Stephen
(-16) 2015 - Rory
(-22) 2016 - Danny Willett
(-19) 2017 - Sergio Garcia
(-19) 2018 - Li Haotong
DeChambeau 264 (-24)
Lucas Herbert 279 (-9)
- Paul Casey 271 (-17) 2022 - Victor Hovland 276 (-12)
2019 - Bryson
All the key Hero Dubai Desert Classic facts and figures to enhance your viewing pleasure
Emirates Golf Club is set to stage the Dubai Desert Classic for the 32nd time. The event was twice held at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club in 1999 and 2000.
139 LOW CUT (-5), 2018
HIGH CUT (+5), 1989
This is Major
The Desert Classic's roll of honour includes 11 Major champions: Ballesteros (1992), Els (1994, 2002, 2005), Couples (1995), Olazábal (1998), O’Meara (2004), Woods (2006, 2008), McIlroy (2009, 2015), Stenson (2007), Willett (2016), Garcia (2017) and DeChambeau (2019)
Biggest final round comeback by a winner: Lucas Herbert, 2020
Mark O’Meara, 47 years and 54 days, 2004 YOUNGEST WINNER Rory McIlroy, 19 years and 273 days, 2009
hole, Rnd 3, 2018
hole, Rnd 1, 2019 Nacho Elvira
hole, Rnd 1, 2021
PRIZE PURSE 1989: €251,708.00 2023: $9,000,000.00 (Winner's share €58,324.00) (Winner's share: €1,413,349.74) CONSECUTIVE WINS Stephen Gallacher 2013 and 2014 HOLESIN-ONE Miguel Ángel Jiménez 4th Hole, Rnd 2, 1990 Chris Moody 11th Hole, Rnd 3, 1990 Mark McNulty 11th Hole, Rnd 3, 1990 José Cóceres 7th Hole, Rnd 2, 1992 Wayne Westner 7th Hole, Rnd 1, 1995 José Cóceres 4th Hole, Rnd 1, 1996 Roger Wessels 7th Hole, Rnd 2, 1996 Peter Hedblom 15th Hole, Rnd 2, 1996 Stuart Cage 8th Hole, Rnd 1, 1999 (Dubai Creek) Peter Downie 16th Hole, Rnd 1, 2000 (Dubai Creek) Henrik Bjørnstad 7th Hole, Rnd 4, 2002 Brad Kennedy 4th Hole, Rnd 2, 2004 Yasin Ali 7th Hole, Rnd 1, 2005 Nobuhito Sato 15th Hole, Rnd 1, 2005 Stephen Gallacher 4th Hole, Rnd 4, 2005 Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño 4th Hole, Rnd 2, 2007 Miguel Ángel Jiménez 7th hole, Rnd 1, 2008 Louis Oosthuizen 11th hole, Rnd 2, 2009 David Howell 7th hole, Rnd 1, 2011 Keith Horne 4th hole, Rnd 2, 2011 Raphaël Jacquelin 7th hole, Rnd 3, 2011 Álvaro Quirós 11th hole, Rnd 4, 2011 Stephen Gallacher 15th hole, Rnd 1, 2012 Martin Kaymer 7th hole, Rnd 2, 2012 Álvaro Quirós 4th hole, Rnd 4, 2015 Grégory Bourdy 11th hole, Rnd 3, 2017 Matthew Southgate 7th hole, Rnd 2, 2018 Alexander
hole, Rnd 3, 2022 *All at Emirates G.C. unless noted
We would like to thank the following for their invaluable support of the 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic, held at Emirates Golf Club from January 26 - 29
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