The DP World Tour continues its Dubai swing for a second straight week with this week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
This event was first staged in 1989 and outside of the event not taking place in 1991, has been held every year since. This makes this year’s playing the 35th edition.
The Dubai Desert Classic takes place at the world-famous Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club. It has been held here every year outside of 1999 and 2000 where it was held at last week’s venue, the Dubai Creek Resort.
This week’s field for the 35th edition of the Dubai Desert Classic is as star-studded as it can get.
Fresh off their battle at the Dubai Invitational, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood are back to headline this week’s field.
Joining McIlroy and Fleetwood in the desert this week are the likes of Tyrrell Hatton, Brian Harman, Cameron Young, Nicolai Hojgaard, Adrian Meronk, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Ryan Fox.
McIlroy is the defending champion of this event as he edged out Patrick Reed by a stroke a year ago. Last year marked McIlroy’s third Dubai Desert Classic title.
The Dubai Desert Classic was also the first DP World Tour (then European Tour) victory for McIlroy back in 2008.
The Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club will once again play host this week.
It plays as a par-72 at 7,428 yards.
The Majlis Course was designed by Karl Litten and opened in 1988.
Off-the-tee, there is little to no defense offered this week. This adds an emphasis to driving distance, as historically proven.
The fairways are fairly generous and the rough is non-penal.
Water is the course’s main line of defense as it comes into play on ten holes.
The greens were completely renovated two years ago, now featuring a Bermuda TifEagle grass that plays at roughly 11.5 on the Stimpmeter.
The front nine here at the Majlis Course plays much more difficult than the back nine. Four-of-the-five toughest holes on the course are featured on the front nine.
Last season, the front nine played to the tune of 35.18 (as a par-35) on average as the back nine played to an average of 35.6 as a par-37.
Of course, this track is an exposed desert track. Therefore, the wind has a lot to do with the way the course is played and managed.
If the wind picks up, the course dries out and scoring becomes much more difficult, just as we saw a week ago.
This was evident in 2020 when Lucas Herbert won at just -9 as the year prior, Bryson DeChambeau won at -24.
As of the time of writing this, we may be in store for another low scoring affair. There, of course, is no chance of precipitation in the forecast and temperatures are set at 77-degrees across all four days. Winds are also set to be limited, ranging from nine-to-11 miles-per-four this week. In all, it appears we could be in line for some fireworks this week.
Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (SG: OTT)
Average Driving Distance
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Nicolai Hojgaard (+2200)
At this number, I couldn’t leave Nicolai Hojgaard off my card. If we look back to the DP World Tour Championship, also played in Dubai, Hojgaard topped an even better field than the star-studded one he’s going up against this week. Many of the golfers favored ahead of him (Tyrrell Hatton, Cameron Young and Brian Harman) are traveling to Dubai this week. Not an easy trip to make to prepare for four days of golf in the same week. Hojgaard is on the verge of stardom and sitting at 22/1 cannot be ignored, especially after topping many of these names not that long ago. I’m playing two units on Hojgaard.
Thriston Lawrence (+4000)
If a course calls for driving distance, you know the South Africans are going to show up. Lawrence is currently second on the DP World Tour in SG: PUTT, 18th in SG: OTT, 23rd in GIR%, 24th in SG: APP and 28th in average driving distance. The South African is also fresh off a T2nd at last week’s Dubai Invitational, placing him alongside Rory McIlroy and just a stroke off the winner, Tommy Fleetwood. That in itself should help make the argument for Lawrence at 40/1. Lawrence has also gone T7th at the Joburg Open, T10th at the South African Open and T11th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship to kickstart his season. I’m playing a unit on him this week.
Zander Lombard (+7000)
Like fellow South African Lawrence, Lombard had a fantastic showing last week in the desert, placing T6th at the Dubai Invitational. He also went T4th at the Joburg Open, T12th at the South African Open and T25th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on the season. He is currently 14th on Tour in SG: PUTT, 16th in SG: OTT, 19th in average driving distance, 32nd in SG: APP and 47th in GIR%. I can think of much worse ways to place my money this week than on Lombard. I’m playing a unit on him.
Alejandro Del Rey (+10000)
We didn’t see Alejandro Del Rey last week at the Dubai Invitational in a limited feld, but he did start his 2024 DP World Tour season by going T5th at the South African Open and T7th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. He is also a monster off the tee as he currently ranks second on Tour in average driving distance. He is also currently 17th on Tour in both SG: OTT and GIR%, 28th in SG: APP and 62nd in SG: PUTT. A spike putting week would definitely put Del Rey into contention come Sunday. I’m playing a unit on him.