Rookie winner MacIntyre leads young charges at 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic

2019 European Tour Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year winner Robert MacIntyre
European Tour Rookie of the Year Robert MacIntyre is one of young pretenders challenging for the 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic crown

EUROPEAN Tour Rookie of the Year Robert MacIntyre has added his name to a world-class Omega Dubai Desert Classic field in January.

The Scotsman, who claimed the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Trophy in November, will be joined by Italy’s Guido Migliozzi and South Africans Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Erik van Rooyen, who all claimed maiden European Tour titles in 2019.

The crop of rising stars will be joined at Emirates Golf Club by Spaniard Adri Arnaus and Austrian Matthias Schwab, who themselves have both come close to a first victory this season, en route to finishing 41st and 17th on the 2019 Race to Dubai, respectively.

All six will arrive at Emirates Golf Club looking to emulate the success of defending champion Bryson DeChambeau.

The American, who has spent the last few months bulking up his physique, will return to Dubai.

The “Scientist” will be joined by past winners Rafa Cabrera Bello, Sergio Garcia, Haotong Li, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett.

In addition, England’s Ryder Cup players Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood – along with Hertfordshire’s Matt Wallace – are all set to inject their own star quality into the 31st edition of the event from January 23-26.

Following a stellar amateur career, MacIntyre has impressed since earning his card through the Challenge Tour rankings in 2018.

The left-hander came close to a maiden victory on several occasions – including runner-up finishes at both the British Masters and Made in Denmark.

McIntyre, who was beaten in the 2016 Amateur Championship final by Hampshire’s Scott Gregory, will be looking to rubber-stamp his rookie season with a first title early in 2020 – and the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic will be one of his first opportunities to do so in the New Year.

“This year really couldn’t have gone much better,” said the 23-year old MacIntyre, who finished in a tie for sixth on his first Major appearance at the Open Championship at Royal Portrush, in July.

“I’ve come close to winning on a few occasions, which has been a great experience,” said McIntyre, who hails from Oban.

“I learned a lot each time and feel it is just a matter of time until I put it all together and win,” said the 11th Scot to win the Rookie of the Year award since 1960.

“If that were to be in Dubai, it would be amazing. The Scots have a pretty good record there, so I’d love to follow on from Stephen Gallacher and Colin Montgomerie by putting my name on the trophy too.”

Much like MacIntyre in 2019, Van Rooyen had spent much of the previous 18 months knocking on the door of a first European Tour title.

2019 Scandinavian Invitataion winner Erik van Rooyen
Erik Van Rooyen recorded his first win on the European Tour at the Scandinavian Invitataion.

That maiden win subsequently came earlier this year at the Scandinavian Invitation.

As one of the Tour’s brightest young stars, the 29-year old backed that up with three runner-up finishes and seven more top-10s, resulting in a career-best 10th place finish on the Race to Dubai.

“This has been a great year, but I hope it’s just the beginning,” said Van Rooyen, who graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2017.

“To win in Sweden was an amazing moment in my career, but I have been just as pleased with the consistency I have shown this year.

“I want to build on this in 2020 and a win in Dubai, following in the footsteps of Ernie Els, would be amazing.

“I grew up watching him win all over the world and it would be great to achieve even a fraction of that myself,” said van Rooyen.

Migliozzi, fresh from a highly impressive first European Tour campaign, burst onto the scene in 2019.

Guido Migliozzi
Guido Migliozzi is the latest talent to emerge from Italy with two European Tour wins in 2019

Claiming two victories in almost as many months – at the Magical Kenya Open and Belgian Knockout – he finished 40th on the Race to Dubai, having contended with MacIntyre for the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie title.

The Italian will arrive in the United Arab Emirates looking to kickstart his second season in style by adding another title to his burgeoning résume.

“I cannot wait to play at Emirates Golf Club,” said 22-year old Migliozzi, who will be bidding to become the first Italian to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic title.

“It has been an incredible first season, but I’m not going to stop here.

“I want this to be the start of a long career and the more I play in tournaments of this stature, the better I will get.

“I have not played in this event before, but I have heard great things, so I can’t wait to get going in January.”

It has been a roller-coaster journey for Bezuidenhout to get to this point in his career, including a controversial two-year drugs ban as an amateur, after taking beta-blockers for his anxiety and a serious stutter.

Victory at the Andalucia Masters in June – five years after his ban at The Amateur Championship was reduced to nine months allowing him to turn pro in 2015 – was a great example of triumph over adversity.

His victory was no flash in the pan, however, as the South African racked up an additional five top-10 finishes and moved up to 90th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rounding out the crop of emerging talent are Spain’s Adri Arnaus and Austria’s Matthias Schwab.

Adri Arnaus
Spain’s Adri Arnaus
Matthias Schwab
Austria’s Matthias Schwab

Arnaus posted six top-10 finishes in 2019, including runner-up finishes in Kenya and the Czech Republic, while Schwab narrowly lost out in a six-man play-off in Turkey – one of 10 top-10 results in just his second full season on the European Tour.

With Dubai’s four-day event set to be bigger and better than ever, offering an enhanced hospitality experience, contemporary food and beverage offers and a rejuvenated kids’ zone, in addition to a truly world-class field, you can book daily, season or terrace hospitality tickets with prices starting from AED75.

The inaugural Omega Dubai Desert Classic was played in 1989 and won by England’s Mark James, who went on to captain Europe in the Ryder Cup Battle of Brooline, in 1999.

Since then, the roll of honour has boasted 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 Tiger Woods.

•To purchase hospitality, season or daily tickets, click here. For more information on the Omega Dubai Desert Classic click here.

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