Great Els looks for more success at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

ERNIE ELS-3

With his competitive spirit burning as strong as ever, Ernie Els returns to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next week, aiming to extend his impressive record at Emirates Golf Club.

The great South African, who owns a record three titles at the longest-running European Tour event in the region, has inspired a whole new generation of talented players with his impeccable work ethic and calm demeanour on the golf course, since his emphatic victory at the 1994 edition, which was his first on the European Tour.

Since that triumph, Els has evolved into one of the most decorated golfers in the world, boasting 70 professional career victories, including four Major Championships, two World Golf Championships and seven World Matchplay titles and is the clear leader in the all-time career earnings on the European Tour.

One of the most prolific winners of his generation, the 45-year-old is chomping at the bit to claim another famous victory over the Majlis course where he still holds the course record of 61, which he shot in 1994. His opening round, which included 12 birdies, is still widely regarded as one of the greatest ever rounds in the history of the European Tour.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge. I love the Middle East and there's no doubt it'll be a great experience for all of the players. I know it has been a long time since I won last in Dubai, but I'm quite excited about my game, especially at the start of a new season," said Els, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

"I think everyone knows I love playing in Dubai. 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," said Els, who is a whopping 169-under- par for the 48 rounds he has played at the Majlis course in his 13 appearances.

After making his Dubai debut in 1993, a 24-year-old Els returned a year later and eclipsed a strong field that included the likes of Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples and Greg Norman to announce his arrival on the big stage.

Eight years later, Els triumphed again on the majestic Majlis Course to claim his second Dubai title and his love affair with the Majlis course continued when he claimed a record third Omega Dubai Desert Classic title in 2005 after a dramatic eagle three on the final hole which carried him past Welshman Stephen Dodd and Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Commented Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, the promoters and organizers of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic: "We are delighted to welcome Ernie back because he is a true a global ambassador for golf and a great friend of Dubai.

"Despite being on the tour for so many years, Ernie remains a popular figure with fans all over the world and deservedly receives a hero's reception when his name is announced on the first tee. As always, I am really looking forward to see him play in Dubai."

The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World & Maritime World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels, Mercedes 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.