With defending champion Rory McIlroy and world No 6 Henrik Stenson leading the field at this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, we look at five other players who could challenge at Emirates Golf Club. Play starts Thursday.
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The German comes into the tournament somewhat under the radar, despite his CV and, in particular, his record around the Majlis. In six starts, Kaymer has finished runner-up once and fourth three times — the most recent coming last year. A double major champion who loves the desert, he has all the tools to add to his three Abu Dhabi victories.
Another Belgian big-hitter, that should stand him in good stead this week, since the Majlis favours bombers. Pieters underlined his credentials in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, finishing second to eventual winner Rickie Fowler. However, a poor show last time out in Qatar was not helped by a bout of illness. Must improve on last year’s 42nd in Dubai, but that was his debut.
The likeable Englishman has enjoyed a rapid rise these past 12 months, helped by brilliant recent performances in the UAE, with a runner-up finish at the November DP World Tour Championship and then holding the 54-hole lead in Abu Dhabi in his last outing. Has previous on the Majlis, too, coming home 12th on debut in 2013 and then tied-fourth last year.
Seems an obvious choice given his runner-up finish in last week’s Qatar Masters, but the Dane is patently comfortable at Emirates Golf Club as well. Olesen may have missed the cut there last year, but before that he posted a couple of fine finishes: tied-third in 2013 and tied-fifth 12 months later. In good nick for at least a repeat.
BYEONG HUN AN
The reigning European Tour rookie of the year, An is fast fulfilling his undoubted potential. Fifth place in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago highlighted a continuation of his 2015, while he has never finished outside the top 15 in five desert appearances. That includes tied-13th on debut in Dubai last year. On form, too, with four top fives in past six starts on the circuit.