Hero Dubai Desert Classic set for historic Monday finish after weather disruptions

Organisers confirm Rolex Series tournament will be played over 72 holes despite time lost to rain

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The Hero Dubai Desert Classic will conclude on a Monday for the first time in its 34-year history, the tournament’s organisers have confirmed.

The heavy rain in the city over the course of the second half of the week led to delayed starts to play at Emirates Golf Club on both Thursday and Friday.

As a result, the first round was only concluded on Friday afternoon. A few matches had started their second round when play was again brought to a premature end a few hours later.

Instead of reducing the competition to 54 holes, as happened most recently on the DP World Tour at last year’s Czech Masters, it will be played to a finish over the customary 72 holes.

"This is one of the biggest events on the DP World Tour and we clearly want to make every effort possible to get to 72 holes at one of our biggest championships," Mike Stewart, the DP World Tour tournament director for the Classic, said.

More time has been lost at the Classic to fog and wind in the past than to rain, but the 2023 version has been disrupted significantly by the weather.

The public were not admitted to the course on Thursday because of flooding on surrounding roads, and play was delayed for a little over six hours as staff attempted to make the course playable.

The attempt to make up time on Friday morning was scuppered by more overnight rain, which led to another two-hour delay to the start.

"I looked it up yesterday just to find out because this is fairly rare," Stewart said.

"We have had one rain stoppage. We had rain and lightning in 2007, and we stopped for two hours, 15 minutes and went back out again.

"That was on the Friday, and that's the only stoppage we've had previously for rain. Now we've had six hours yesterday, another [two] this morning. So yes, it's quite unusual for this venue."

When the players were permitted back on the course, and finished their opening rounds, some of the play was spectacular.

Most notably, Rory McIlroy played just six shots after his 8am restart, as he finished birdie, eagle, birdie. The fine finish gave the world No 1 a share of the first-round lead with Patrick Reed.

The American finished with an eagle at the 18th, shortly after McIlroy had finished on the adjacent 9th green.

By the time play was brought to a halt on Friday evening, Richard Bland and Ian Poulter had assumed the lead on 8-under par.

The second round will be played to its conclusion on Saturday. Sunday will be the third round, with Monday set to provide the finale.

"It's a top event," Stewart said. "It's a top sponsor we have, they would like to see it played to a proper conclusion, and it is our prime objective to play 72 holes wherever we can.

"Normally it's within four days, but if we can go to a fifth day where practical, we will do that."

Updated: January 27, 2023, 6:00 PM