Lee Westwood (pictured) plays on the European Tour in the Dubai Desert Classic this week and he looks one of the most likely winners alongside Sergio Garcia. Westwood has moved his family to the States and will be playing most of his golf on the US Tour in an attempt to give himself the best opportunity to win that elusive first major championship.
The ‘Dubai’s is now the third and final leg of the Gulf swing. This is the 21st year in succession that the Emirates Golf Club has hosted the event. In the past Tiger Woods has entered but this year there are no attractions from the US PGA Tour except former British Open champion Ben Curtis.
The American-style course has been largely unchanged during the tournament’s history. The fairways are fairly generous leading to large and generally flat Bermuda greens. Water comes into play on 10 holes. The four par 5s will provide plenty of eagle and birdie opportunities.
In terms of tee times overall it might be a marginal advantage to play in the morning in round one. Massive hitting is not necessary for victory. Nevertheless long hitting is a bonus here as the par 5s are so important. Former winners have generally played the long holes significantly under par.
Three of the par 5s are on the back nine, including the 18th which shares a green with the 9th hole. The tournament has been decided in the past on the final hole when players have recorded an eagle to secure victory.
The course is about average in length by modern standards. The key to scoring well is quality iron play and players who consistently find the greens in the correct number of shots have an advantage over the rest of the field.
Henrik Stenson from Sweden has some decent course form and is now showing the ability that took him to a career high of number four in the world rankings. Stenson is above average in length off the tee, putts well and scores highly for finding the greens in the correct number of shots. With that profile Stenson looks like being a leading contender this week.