China’s Haotong Li, winner of the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic in 2018, has announced his return to Emirates Golf Club from 23-26 January, where he will be joined by Major Champions Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell, in addition to three-time European Tour winner Tyrrell Hatton, to take on a world-class field.
The quartet join an already all-star cast, including defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, former winners Rafa Cabrera Bello and Henrik Stenson, in addition to multiple European Tour victors Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Matt Wallace, Danny Willett and Lee Westwood.
Li created headlines when, at just twenty-two years old, he went toe-to-toe with Rory McIlroy to secure a second European Tour victory at the 2018 event, becoming the first Asian winner of the tournament with a record score of 23 under par, until that was eclipsed by current champion DeChambeau en route to the title earlier this year.
“This is a tournament that I have very special memories of, so I cannot wait to return to the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic next January,” said Haotong Li, currently ranked 61st on the Official World Golf Ranking. “Going up against a player of Rory’s calibre and coming out on top gave me a lot of confidence and the win itself changed my career, so I’m excited to be heading back. To get another victory would be the perfect way to start next season, especially against a field full of so many great players, so I’m already looking forward to playing again in January.”
Haotong Li will be joined by two-time Major Champion and 2010 Race to Dubai winner Martin Kaymer, who is no stranger to success in the UAE, having won in Abu Dhabi on three separate occasions and he will tee it up at the Majlis Course looking to claim a first European Tour title in five years.
“It’s going to be a fantastic experience being back in Dubai” said the 34-year-old Kaymer, who rose to World Number One back in 2011. “I have had plenty of success in the region and, while I’ve not won this particular event yet, I still get a good feeling being back in the country. Not only is the course always in great condition, the tournament is well run and the field one of the strongest on the Tour outside the Majors. It should be a great week.”
Himself a fellow US Open Champion, Graeme McDowell will head to Dubai looking to continue a resurgence that has seen him claim a fourth career PGA Tour title in 2019 and qualify for the Open Championship in dramatic fashion. Holing a 40-foot putt across the 72nd green at the RBC Canadian Open earlier this summer allowed the Northern Irishman to tee it up at Royal Portrush and he will hope to continue that kind of form into next season when he returns to Emirates Golf Club for the first time since 2018.
McDowell said: “I am really excited for next season and I hope the form I’ve found this year can continue. Being a Ryder Cup year, many of us will be looking at getting our qualification campaigns off to the best possible starts and the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic would be a great place to do that.”
Tyrrell Hatton, who made a maiden Ryder Cup appearance last September, will arrive in the UAE next January looking for a first European Tour title in the region. He has form though, having previously finished second at the 2016 DP World Tour Championship and sixth at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship a year prior, so it would be no surprise to see him go a few better and take the title next year.
“I always love playing the Majlis course,” said Hatton. “I’ve finished eighth and third at the event there in the past, plus I always enjoy playing in Dubai as the weather and course conditions are just perfect. So many great players have won this event over the past 30-plus years and to add my name to that list would be incredible. I can’t wait.”
With the four-day event set to be bigger and better than ever, offering an enhanced hospitality experience, contemporary food and beverage offers and a rejuvenated kids’ zone, in addition to a truly world-class field, this is the perfect time to book daily, season or Terrace Hospitality tickets with prices starting from AED75.
The inaugural OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic was played in 1989 and won by England’s Mark James. Since then, the roll of honour has boasted some of the biggest names in golf over the past 30 years, including the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Fred Couples, Rory McIlroy, Colin Montgomerie and Tiger Woods.