Els will be joined by fellow South African Major winner Louis Oosthuizen who won the South African Open on the European Tour last weekend. A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Ernie cemented his place as one of the greatest players of his generation with over 70 pro tournament wins worldwide including four Majors.
The South African forged his reputation as a legend of the Middle East’s longest-running European Tour event in 1994. He fired a course record of 61 in the first round, which still stands 25 years on. Those 12 birdies and 21 putts helped secure Els his first European Tour victory aged 24.
Eight years later in 2002, Els secured his second win in Dubai with a four-shot victory on the Majlis course. He then went on to make it a hat-trick in 2005 when he rolled in a 20 foot eagle putt to edge out Stephen Dodd and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.
Els is the only player to have won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic three times and he has also been runner-up twice. In his first 11 appearances, Els did not finish lower than 11th including three wins, three runners-up and three third-place finishes.
Another South African champion joining Els in Dubai is his 21-year-old nephew, Jovan Rebula, who will make his debut in Dubai as an amateur. The rising star secured his invite after winning the British Amateur Championship earlier this year, moving to No. 59 in the World Golf Amateur rankings and winning the ‘Freddie Tait Cup’ awarded to the leading amateur at the South African Open
David Spencer, Tournament Director, stated: “We are really excited to welcome back such an iconic golf legend for his 17th appearance in our tournament. Ernie is always a crowd favourite and he obviously has a special history on the Majlis course. To have both the Big Easy and the Little Easy playing together alongside Louis will give a really special South African storyline to the tournament. He may be turning 50 next year, but a fourth victory will be within his grasp!”
The 30th edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic will be held at Emirates Golf Club from 24 – 27 January 2019. Since 1989, the tournament has seen 24 different winners from 13 different nations.