DUBAI, Jan 12 — Ernie Els has insisted his desire to succeed still burns as strong as ever as he returns to a familiar hunting ground later this month at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club.
One of the most prolific winners of his generation, Els enjoys fond memories of the longest-running European Tour event in region, having won it a record three times and is relishing the chance to extend the incredible feat and turn the page on a disappointing 2017 season.
“My hunger for competition is as strong as ever. It’s all about fighting hard to get something going, some momentum rolling. Hopefully, good memories of the Majlis course will come in very handy,” said the South African great, who is an amazing 184-under par for the 56 rounds he has played since making his debut in 1993.
“I think everyone knows I love playing in Dubai. I like the lines off the tees and the greens are quite soft so if you get your ball up, you can shoot some good scores,” said Els who still holds the course record of 61 he shot en route an emphatic six-shot victory at the 1994 edition of the event — his first on the European Tour.
“I always look forward to coming back and playing in this wonderful tournament.
“Results-wise, 2017 season may have been a bit disappointing, but the good thing is that I feel like my game has been in better shape than the scores suggested,” said the former number one, who boasts 70 professional career victories, including four Major Championships, two World Golf Championships and a record seven World Matchplay titles.
Nicknamed the Big Easy for his calm demeanour on the golf course, Els is the latest star to commit to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic along with Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter further bolstering a stellar cast headlined by defending champion Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and ‘Volcano’ Pat Perez.
David Spencer, the tournament director, said: “We are delighted to welcome our only three-time champion back in Dubai. A great friend of Dubai, Ernie is a true ambassador of golf, having won across five continents. He plays his golf with the deftness of an artist, which is a treat to watch for any golf fan.
“Attribute it to old school loyalty or the Magic of the Majlis, every golfer feels like it’s coming home to Dubai and that is a big reason we have again assembled a strong field, one that fits perfectly with the tag-line of the tournament, ‘Made for Greatness.’
“I’m sure the fans are in for a real feast of golf with all the drama and emotions unfolding on the course. I wish everyone in the field the very the best and hope they have a great week.”
Meanwhile, tickets are available for purchase online (www.omegadubaidesertclassic.com). Daily tickets for the four-day main competition, starting on January 25, are priced at Dh 175. A season pass, which provides access all week, is available for Dh 500. All those aged 16 and under will be allowed free entry to the course if they are accompanied by an adult who is holding a valid ticket for the day.