Ground staff ensure Hero Dubai Desert Classic first round goes ahead after heavy rain

Defending champion Rory McIlroy to tee off at 1.45pm at Emirates Golf Club following a six-hour rain delay

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Rory McIlroy will begin his bid to reclaim the Hero Dubai Desert Classic title at 1.45pm after the opening round was rescheduled due to adverse weather.

Heavy overnight rain led to a delay of six hours and five minutes, as staff at Emirates Golf Club got to work trying to make the course playable.

The DP World Tour announced a suspension to play early on Thursday morning, with the course being inaccessible due to various areas of flooding.

Day 1 will be closed to the public, but play is due to commence at 1.15pm. McIlroy, the two-time champion at the Majlis Course, is set to start 30 minutes later, at the 10th tee.

Greens-keeping crew had plenty of work to do after the showers of Wednesday night, which included a thunder storm in the early hours of Thursday morning.

At the time of the scheduled Round 1 start of 7.10am, the forecast showers were only light and brief, but the effect of the previous hours was still significant.

Part of the bunker beside the first fairway on the Majlis Course had collapsed due to heavy overnight rain. Paul Radley / The National

Outside of the ropes, many areas of the course were impassable. Inside the playing area, there were vast areas of standing water, including in almost all bunkers.

Most notably, there was a substantial puddle beside the first fairway, while a pond appeared to have emerged just before the fairway on the par-4 17th.

Staff were also busy attempting to rectify damage to a bunker on the right-hand side of the first fairway, some of which had caved in because of the rain.

The Emirates Golf Club staff have rectified the issue, though the area will be deemed ground under repair when play starts. photo: Paul Radley / The National
Updated: January 27, 2023, 5:11 AM