Although it would be fair to say this year Abu Dhabi has well and truly stolen the bigger boys in golf with reputed appearance fees attracting the likes of Tiger and Rory once again, the Desert Classic still remains the original Desert Swing tournament and the field is strong.
The start of the season has already provided some stunning golf and it’s great to see some new names on the leaderboards.Thorbjorn Oleson is probably one of the most talented golfers I have seen in the last few years and with his runner up finish in Abu Dhabi has already proved that he can play with the big boys!
The other stand out performances so far this season have come from greats of yesteryear, Michael Campbell seems to have dusted his clubs off and started scoring well again and there was a huge expat following for the ever popular David Howell at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship as he all but looked to seal his first win in seven years. It was good to see him have a solid week in Qatar the following week and keep his confidence going.
The Desert Classic has certainly been a popular place for the Spanish contingent on the European Tour with Jiminez, Quiros and Cabrera-Bello (last years winner) picking up titles in the last few years. With Sergio Garcia making an appearance at the Classic this year there is a good chance of this pattern continuing!
Lee Westwood also makes his first European start of the year and if Lee can get his putter working, the Majlis is certainly a course that suits his game. Having commented on all of the players above I am going to make my prediction for the week. We have recently been lucky to have a number of European Tour Professionals practicing at Yas Links and I have been most impressed by the young Italian Matteo Manassero. He is my pick for the week for at least a top 10, if not to win the whole event.
It couldn’t possibly be another Spaniard though, could it?
All the best from the Links,