Ernie Els aims to Extend 'Classic Run' of Success in Dubai

Ernie Els aims to Extend 'Classic Run' of Success in Dubai

ERNIE ELS

His hunger to scale the mountain as keen as ever, Ernie Els will be hoping to glean more glory when he returns to compete in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club from February 4 to 7.

The only player to have won the "Classic' title three times, the South African great has strung together impressive streaks on the famed Majlis course, going 172-under- par for the 52 rounds he has played in 14 appearances at the longest-running European Tour event in the region.

It was Els' emphatic six-shot victory at the 1994 edition of the event - his first on the European Tour -  that resonated on many levels, announcing the arrival of a player who was destined for greatness.

Playing his second Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Els, as a 24-year-old, turned the Majlis course into his personal playing ground, shooting a sizzling 61 in the opening round, a course record that stands to this day.

Indeed the round, which included 12 birdies equalling the record for the most birdies in one round, is still widely regarded as one of the greatest ever rounds in the history of the European Tour.

His first European Tour win opened the floodgates for the 'Big Easy,' as he is affectionately nicknamed for his calm demeanour on the golf course, and today he is one of the most decorated golfers in the world, boasting 68 professional wins, including a record seven World Match Play titles and four Major Championship titles.

Els picked up his second title in Dubai 2002 and continued his love affair with the Majlis course when he claimed a record third Omega Dubai Desert Classic title in 2005 after a dramatic eagle three on the final hole carried him past Welshman Stephen Dodd and Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez.

"It feels great to return to a course where you have enjoyed some success. I think everyone knows I love playing in Dubai," said Els who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

"On the Majlis course, I like the lines off the tees and the greens are quite soft so if you get your ball up, you can shoot some good scores. It will be fun to be competing in the tournament. Obviously, I will be looking to win the event again," said Els, a golf role model whose work for autism awareness has earned him the 2015 Payne Stewart Award.

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, the promoters and organizers of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, said: "We are delighted to welcome our only three-time champion back in Dubai. Ernie is a true champion and a great friend of Dubai.

"We have a very strong field for the 27th edition of the event and I'm sure the fans are in for a real feast of golf with all the drama and emotions unfolding on the course." 

The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic are backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, JA Resorts and Hotels, Mercedes-Benz and wasl, while Dubai Duty Free, Neocasa Interiors and Motivate Publishing are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.