DUBAI — It was a week with no shortage of talking points, from the weather to the high-profile field that blazed with the ranks of nine Major champions with 24 titles combined, four European number ones, 11 past champions and 10 of the 12 members of the 2016 European Ryder Cup team members.
Every engrossing tale has subplots. And this year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic had several before Spain’s Sergio Garcia emerged as the worthy winner of the 28th edition of the longest-running European Tour event.
Unfortunately, the tournament lost main draws Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods (after round one) through injuries, but there was still drama aplenty — both on and off the course — that resonated across the golfing world.
Garcia, making his eighth appearance, displayed imperious touch to rack up his 12th victory in his 250th European Tour event, becoming the sixth Spaniard to inscribe his name on the iconic Dallah and moving to third in the Race to Dubai Rankings with 410,224 points.
At 37 years 27 days, he also became the third youngest Spaniard to win 12 European Tour titles behind the great Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Attribute it to old school Loyalty or the Magic of the Majlis, every golfer felt like coming home in Dubai and that is one big reason why the iconic Dallah, as the Arabian coffee-pot shaped trophy is called, holds a special reverence to golfers, adding credence to assertion that both are Made for Greatness, as tournament was tag-lined this year.
Greatness may have many miles to wind for players like Rayhan Thomas, but the young amateur will relish every moment of competing at this highest level of golf.
Making the cut and playing the final round alongside the Masters champion Danny Willett was a reward for player who graduated from the ranks of the MENA Golf Tour, serving an inspiration for the emerging talent for region’s golfers.
Talk about amateurs and it was Australia’s Curtis Luck who made his ‘desert safari’ an event to remember, emerging as the leading amateur in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, indeed a creditable performance for a player who is waiting until after his upcoming Masters appearance to turn professional.
It’s a tribute to Craig Haldane and his maintenance team at Emirates Golf Club that despite suspension of play due to high winds that brought down some trees and blew tonnes of sands, they kept the course in prime condition, winning plaudits from all and sundry for their work.
A total of 1,344 birdies and 24 eagles were recorded during the week with par-5, 13th proving to be the easiest hole, producing 178 birdies and eight eagles while par-4, 12th was the toughest resulting in just 21 birdies.
Garcia’s victory meant that it was the second time in two years that both the reigning champions of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters (Shanshan Feng) and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic are the brand ambassador of the Swiss luxury watchmaker.
And Omega could not have timed it better by announcing the extension of their title sponsorship partnership of the two premier events for another four years, just a day before the Garcia victory!
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, said: “Coincidences mean you’re on the right path and we are happy to see Omega brand ambassadors as champions of both of our tournaments. Their victories have certainly taken the profile of the events to a whole new level. I wish them every success for the future.
“OMEGA’S trust in our tournaments is an honour. The brand has been an invaluable partner over the years and we are extremely pleased to be able to count on its continued support.”
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 & 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.