World number three Rory McIlroy will be hoping to continue his incredible record when he returns to defend his title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic where he will be making his tenth appearance, the most number of times he has played anywhere in the world.
Fondly referred to as the ‘Major of the Middle East,’ the longest-running European Tour event in the region, starting from February 4 to 7, holds special significance for the Northern Irishman, who recorded his first professional win here in 2009 at age 19 years and 273 days.
Acknowledged as an extraordinary talent, McIlroy has since dramatically climbed the ladder of success, becoming the world number one for a period and a proud owner of the US Open (2011), the PGA Championship (2012 and 2014) and The Open (2014) trophies among his 19 multiple wins on the international circuit.
The Holywood native, who is a brand ambassador for Omega, posted an impressive total of 22-under-par 266 en route to his second Omega Dubai Desert Classic win last year to join Ernie Els (1994, 2002 and 2005), Tiger Woods (2006 and 2008) and Stephen Gallacher (2013 and 2014) as players who have recorded multiple victories in the event.
“I have great memories of Dubai and I am really looking forward to getting back to a golf course where I have enjoyed success over the years,” said 26-year-old Ulsterman, who incidentally also made his first cut in a European Tour event as a 17-year-old amateur at the 2007 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
“It seems every time I come here I play well and give myself some great chances,” said McIlroy, who is now 81-under-par for his last six appearances which resulted in first in 2009, sixth in 2010, tenth in 2011, fifth in 2012, ninth in 2014 and first in 2015.
“The Omega Dubai Desert Classic always boasts an outstanding, tough field and the Majlis course is guaranteed to be in really great shape. Obviously, I will be looking to get off to a fast start and give myself the best chance of winning the event again,” said McIlroy, whose 22-under-par 266 total last year matched the lowest winning total by Thomas Bjorn (2001) and Stephen Gallacher (2013 and 2014).
“To think the tournament is older than I am is testimony to its strength and popularity amongst top pros,” said McIlroy, who boasts 19 professionals wins, including 12 on the European Tour and 11 on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy will be joined by MENA Golf Tour patron and 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke, rising English star Matt Fitzpatrick, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer, among other standout players, in a strong field for the 27th edition of the event.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, commented: “We are delighted to welcome back our defending champion whom we have seen grow from an amateur in 2006 to a world-class player. His incredible journey has left indelible footprints in the tournament’s history.
“He is one of golf’s greatest entertainer who brings special energy to the tournament that rubs off well on fans. I wish him the very best.”
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, JA Resorts and Hotels, Mercedes-Benz and wasl, while Dubai Duty Free, Neocasa Interiors and Motivate Publishing are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.
Date: Jan 26, 2016Back