Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

Omega Dubai Desert Classic: Sebastian Heisele enjoys life back on home turf

German-based but Dubai-raised player, and former member at Emirates Golf Club, is only three off the lead after fine opening round

When Sebastian Heisele signed his card after his finest performance at a leading European Tour event in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, he was left with a feeling more of anticipation than satisfaction.

Tied 21st in a Rolex Series event might, he hoped, be the nudge the organisers of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic required to invite him to their tournament, too.

It would be written in the stars, he said, and appearing at the Classic would feel like a homecoming.

Now based in Munich, Heisele grew up in Dubai, learnt his golf in Nad Al Sheba, was a member at Emirates Golf Club, and even caddied at the Classic while a teenager.

When the good news duly followed he had been granted the final sponsor’s exemption for this week, he was delighted. Not that everyone was quite so overwhelmed by the news.

He was staying with his sister in Al Sufouh – which is only a couple of well hit drives away from the Emirates Golf Club – as he is for the duration of this competition. Anne-Fleur, who has precisely zero interest in golf, was not fussed.

“I was at home with my sister, and I got a call from my manager saying that I was in,” Heisele, 31, said.

“She couldn’t care less. It was good news for me, obviously, but maybe in a way I was expecting it.”

Teeing it up for the first time in the one event he had always aspired to play in carried with it no nerves, according to Heisele. Rather, it was just good to be back.

“It is home, in a way,” said Heisele, who left Dubai in 2005 to study for an architecture degree in America. “Every step of the way there is somebody I have dealt with over the years. As soon as I step on here, I feel like the whole Emirates Golf Club staff is supporting me from the get go.

“Every day when I arrive here, there is somebody else who pops up who I have memories with. It is so nice to be here.”

On a day when scoring was as tough as it ever has been in Dubai, Heisele’s 2-under 70 was a fine return.

He is three off the lead, held by Thomas Pieters, and might be planning for a weekend stay – which is better than his last experience out on the course in the Classic.

“We didn’t make the cut, but that was an experience in itself,” he said of caddying for Sven Struver, the German former Tour pro, as a 14-year old.

“I got heaps of clubs from him. I think I played a full bag of his for quite some time. That was amazing for me back then.”

Given that only one player went under par from the first 11 matches out on course on Day 1, the fact Heisele only had one blemish on his card was good going.

“This is as hard and tricky as I have ever seen it,” Heisele said. “Back then, the rough was never this sticky. The greens were nowhere near as firm as they are.

“Having just one bogey on the card is pretty good. I’ll take that. It is probably testament to being patient out there, and my short games was very good today, so I got away with a few there.”

Updated: January 23, 2020 07:53 PM

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