DUBAI, Jan 23 — Colin Montgomerie was full of praise for the Majlis course and the quality of field that the Omega Dubai Desert Classic has attracted this year ahead of his landmark 25th appearance — and his first since 2014 — in the ‘Major of the Middle East,’ at Emirates Golf Club.
“I think the (Majlis) course has stood the test of time terrifically well over the years. Very few courses have had as little change as this one and stood the test of time,” Monty, as he is affectionately known to everyone in the golfing world, told newsmen yesterday.
“Karl Little did a fantastic job in the design and the vision to make this what it is. Superb, and it’s great this year. Particularly, there’s a very strong field, very, very strong field, as strong a field as I haven’t witnessed for many, many years here, so everyone’s excited about it,” said Montgomerie, the winner of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 1996.
That year he needed to produce something special to avoid a playoff and he did just that. Left with 235 yards into blowing wind for his second shot, he decided to hit a driver off the fairway and it was a beauty – some reckon it is still the greatest shot every hit at the Majlis course.
The ball caught the wind, ballooned up and landed safely on the green. He two putted for the winning birdie. “It was the winning shot,” Monty said later. “It had been a matchplay really between us since the seventh and I knew I could reach (the green in two), I felt I had to try something different to win the event – that’s what I enter for.
“It’s always been special for me on a personal front. It has been 22 years since I won here, but the times that I did come here and contended here, I really enjoyed it,” said Montgomerie who flew into Dubai on Monday night from Hawaii, where he finished second to Jerry Kelly in a US PGA Tour Champions event on Saturday.
“Look forward to this week, I really do. The first and foremost thing is to make the cut here. I’d love to that. And then obviously from then, try and move on. Success here, I would be thrilled with a top-20 finish,” said the 54-year-old Scotsman, the winner of 52 professional titles worldwide.
“I’ve got to be realistic because the distance involved, and where the pin placements are nowadays and it’s more difficult for me hitting an 8-iron in to these guys hitting a sand wedge,” said Monty who plies his trade on the senior tours.
“It is harder to get close to the pin with that scenario. But at the same time, course management skills, know my way around here. I personally would be very disappointed if I don’t make the cut this week.”