European No 1 Lee Westwood confirmed for Omega Dubai Desert Classic

The Race to Dubai winner will be joined by Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and a host of stars

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Lee Westwood of England celebrates with the Race to Dubai Trophy following Day 4 of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates on December 13, 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Reigning Race to Dubai champion Lee Westwood is among the latest names to be confirmed for this month’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The Englishman, who last month sealed a third Order of Merit crown, will be joined at the January 28-31 event by recent DP World Tour Championship winner Matthew Fitzpatrick and compatriots Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.

Former champion Rafa Cabrera Bello, and the runners-up from the past two year, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Matt Wallace, were also announced on Thursday.

Westwood, who boasts 25 victories on the circuit, has gone close to winning the Dallah Trophy many times before, finishing second in 1999, 2010 and 2012.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and if you look at my results here historically, you could say the course suits me,” the current European No 1 said in a statement.

“I first played this event in 1994 and the changes and growth of Dubai since then has been quite staggering. There are a lot of good holes: the 8th is spectacular, teeing off towards the skyscrapers, and the 18th especially is a great finishing hole. This is a title I’d love to win having come close in the past.”

Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, will be intent on adding the Desert Classic to his two successes in Dubai: he landed a first DP World Tour Championship in 2016. Runner-up in last year’s Race to Dubai, the six-time European Tour winner will be making his seventh successive appearance at the Emirates Golf Club event. He finished tied-5th in 2017.

“This is one of the iconic venues on the European Tour and it’s an event I look forward to every year when I begin my season in the Middle East,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have enjoyed my off-season having celebrated the win last month and I’m excited to get going again ahead of what should be a very busy year with the Ryder Cup on the horizon in September.”

MAMARONECK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 18: Paul Casey of England plays his shot from the third tee during the second round of the 120th U.S. Open Championship on September 18, 2020 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Unlike Fitzpatrick, Casey has not competed at the Desert Classic in some time, with his most recent appearance coming in 2014. The world No 24 has never previously missed a cut around the Majlis in seven attempts, with his tied-fourth in 2009 representing his best finish.

2020 Omega Desert Classic

“I’m looking forward to returning,” said Casey, a 14-time winner on the tour. “I love playing in Dubai; it's one of those events that jumps out as one of the most prestigious on the European Tour and it’s one I’ve always enjoyed competing in.

“I know the course well and I’m happy to be starting my 2021 European Tour campaign in the region again.”

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 24: Ian Poulter of England plays his second shot on the thirteenth hole during Day Two of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on January 24, 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Keen to begin a Ryder Cup year on a positive note, cup veteran Poulter has contested the Desert Classic in the past four years, and 10 times overall.

“I love coming to Dubai as it’s the perfect environment to start the season,” he said. “I’ve played well here over the last few years with two top-10s and I’m keen to try and improve on that and take home some silverware this time. The Majlis is a course that I feel comfortable on and I can’t wait to get started in a few weeks’ time.”

A host of stellar names have already been confirmed for the event, including Collin Morikawa, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Lucas Herbert, the defending champion.