Harrington will use Omega Dubai Desert Classic to cast eye over Ryder Cup hopefuls

2020 EUROPEAN RYDER CUP CAPTAIN PADRAIG HARRINGTON is playing at the 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Eurpoean captain Padraig Harrington will use his appearance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next month to make a check on the early front runners in the race for a Ryder Cup spot at Whistling Straits. Picture by GETTY IMAGES

EUROPEAN Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington will head to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January, where he will be joined by his predecessor Thomas Bjørn and two-time winning assistant Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

The trio of European Tour legends join an already star-studded field, which sees the return of the tournament-record setting defending champion, Bryson DeChambeau.

Previous winners Rafa Cabrera Bello, Sergio Garcia, Haotong Li, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett will also be in attendance, in addition to a string of other big names – including Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Matt Wallace and Lee Westwood.

The oldest tournament in the region and the longest running on the circuit outside of Europe will be played on the Majlis Course, at Emirates Golf Club.

The Majis was recently crowned the best in the Middle East by Golf Digest.

Harrington will make his eighth appearance at the Dubai Desert Classic next month, and will no doubt have a busy week assessing those in early contention for one of 12 Ryder Cup berths in September – a fact that does not escape the Irishman.

“The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is one of our most iconic events and one I cannot wait to return to,” said Harrington, who finished in a tie for second alongside Tiger Woods at this event in 2001, two shots adrift of Bjorn.

“There is a lot of golf to be played between now and Whistling Straits and, in that time, I hope to play with everyone who is in contention for the team.

“I can think of no better place to do so than Emirates Golf Club, so I’m looking forward it,” added the Irishman, who will arrive in the United Arab Emirates in search of his 16th European Tour title.

Thomas Bjorn held off Tiger Woods to win the 2001 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Thomas Bjorn’s win in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, beating Tiger Woods down the stretch in 2001, is one of the tournament’s most famous wins. Picture by GETTY IMAGES

Bjørn knows what it takes to triumph over Team USA, but with his experience in Paris behind him, 2020 provides a great opportunity for the “Great Dane” to demonstrate how he earned that moniker.

What better place than an event the 48-year old has tasted success at before having, some 18 years ago, played alongside Woods on all four days to deliver one of the event’s most iconic closing Sundays.

“I always love coming back to Dubai and the Desert Classic has so many great memories for me,” said Bjorn.

“To go toe-to-toe with Tiger and come out on top is not something many people can lay claim to, so it is a moment from my career that I will never forget.

“The Majlis Course is always in impeccable condition and it will be great to get out there again in January,” Bjorn added.

Jimenez’s 26th start in Dubai Desert Classic

No stranger to the Dubai Desert Classic, Jiménez – nicknamed The Mechanic – will make his 26th appearance at the 2020 event, none more impressive than his winning display nine years ago.

That year the Spaniard, who was assistant to Jose Maria Olazabal in 2012’s Miracle of Medinah and two years later helping Paul McGinley’s side at Gleneagles, beat Westwood in extra holes.

Victory came some five years after Jimenez narrowly lost out to three-time winner Ernie Els, as the South African eagled the 72nd hole to win by a stroke in 2006.

“I first played in this event back in 1991, so it has been amazing to come back virtually every year and see how much the place has changed,” said the 55-year-old, who won the Senior Open at St Andrews, in 2018.

Jimenez has seven victories in the States since joining the Champions Tour in 2014, including last year’s Regions Tradition Major to go with his 21 European Tour victories between 1992 and 2014.

“I have some amazing memories from my visits to Dubai and my win here is a stand-out for me,” added Jimenez, who won 14 of those European Tour titles in 10 years after turning 40.

“I still enjoy coming out and proving I have what it takes to keep up with the young guys, so I’m looking forward to doing just that in a few weeks,” said Jimenez, who is the oldest player to have won on the European Tour at 50.

Miguel Angel Jimenez playing in the 2019 Dubai Desert Classic
Miguel Angel Jimenez playing in the 2019 Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates’ Majis Course. Picture by GETTY IMAGES

The inaugural Omega Dubai Desert Classic was won by Yorkshire’s Mark James.

It has gone on to establish a roll of honour boasting some of the biggest names in golf over the past 30 years – including the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Fred Couples, Rory McIlroy, Colin Montgomerie and Woods.

Next month’s event will boast an exciting new “Tournament Town,” which will offer a first-class culinary experience and the latest in family entertainment.

With the four-day event set to be bigger and better than ever, there is still time to book daily, season or Terrace Hospitality tickets, with prices starting from 75 dirham.

•To purchase hospitality, season or daily tickets, go to: https://www.omegadubaidesertclassic.com/buy-tickets/

For more information on the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, visit: https://www.omegadubaidesertclassic.com/

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