Several major champions have been confirmed for this month’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, with Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington among those announced on Tuesday.
The quartet will be joined the January 28-31 event by Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell, taking the tally of major champions competing at Emirates Golf Club to 10. Collin Morikawa, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia have already been confirmed.
Lowry, who has tasted success in the UAE by winning in Abu Dhabi two years ago, remains the reigning Open champion having sealed a memorable six-shot victory at Royal Portrush in July 2019.
The Irishman makes his third consecutive appearance at the Desert Classic, finishing in the top-15 on his past two outings.
“I love starting the year in the Middle East and this is a special event in a great city," Lowry said in a statement. “I have played well over the last couple of years there and I’m hoping that can continue this month and kick-start another successful season. The field is shaping up nicely and it’s all set up to be another great week.”
Els, a four-time major champion, returns to the scene of his first European Tour win having triumphed in Dubai in 1994. He captured the Dallah Trophy twice more, in 2002 and 2005, making the South African the tournament’s record title-holder. He has also finished runner-up three times.
“I’m proud of my association with this event as a three-time winner,” Els said. “It broke new ground by bringing professional golf to the region and both the tournament and the city have grown so much since the early 1990s when I first came here.
“I’ve had some great weeks and a few heartbreakers, but that’s the nature of golf. I can’t wait to see what this year has to offer.”
Meanwhile, Harrington will have a keen eye not only on the trophy but on his European peers. The Irishman, a three-time major winner, captains the continent's top players at the Ryder Cup in the United States later this year, although his competitive juices will still be flowing as he looks to go one better than his runner-up finish in 2001.
“Last year I played the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the first time in over 15 years and I quickly realised what I had been missing,” Harrington said. “It’s a great event on a quality golf course and I’m delighted to be returning again this year.
“As Ryder Cup captain it’s important for me to keep an eye on the players who are in contention to make the team and I look forward to the test that the Emirates Golf Club will provide.”
The field this month boasts a host of Ryder Cup stars, including Tommy Fleetwood, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Fellow team member Stenson, the 2016 Open champion, knows the tournament better than most since he spent was once a long-time Dubai resident. An ever-present in the event since 2001, the Swede took home the title in 2007.
“I obviously have a liking for the tournament and for Dubai having previously made my home here for many years and winning back in 2007,” Stenson said. “It’s always a nice week on a great golf course - this is a title that every player would want to have and it feels good to be a past champion.
“The idea of winning it again inspires me and I’d love to be able to pose with the Dallah Trophy again.”
Willet, whose victory in 2016 helped tee him up for his major breakthrough at the Masters a few months later, said: “This tournament is a special one for me as a past champion and I love coming back here year after year. The Majlis is a classic course and is always presented in fantastic condition, so it’s a week I always look forward to at the start of each season.”