Old master young gun
Likely to triumph
or considered the best South African golf has to offer.
There will be a strong South African presence at the tournament, with 12 South Africans in the mix ( see graphic).
Els will be attempting to register his fourth title win. His previous victories at the same event were recorded in 1994, 2002 and 2005.
The two-time victor of both the US Open and British Open – two of the world’s four golf majors – will be facing a stiff challenge from defending champion and erstwhile world number one Rory McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman took the title in 2009 and last year at the desert venue, where he will be making his 10th appearance.
His scorecard last year was an impressive 22 under par, for a score of 266.
Despite recently slipping to third in the world rankings, there is no doubt the 26-year-old, who has won five major titles in an illustrious career so far, will give a good account of himself.
McIlroy, who held the number one spot for 93 weeks before being pushed into third by American Jordan Spieth and Australian Jason Day, is currently enjoying good form.
McIlroy’s command of top spot slipped after he ruptured an ankle ligament while playing football with friends in Northern Ireland last July.
The Dubai Desert Classic is a relative newcomer to the European Tour, notwithstanding that it’s not in Europe. It was the first Middle Eastern country to host the tour, in 1989, and has regularly attracted the top names in the sport. Els has appeared on the honours’ roll, with his three wins, more often than any other golfer, and so it stands to reason he’ll be looking to this venue for more glory and a return to form.
However, McIlroy has never played badly here, and averages better than -13 over the six occasions he has appeared.
Wouldn’t it be great to see a proper showdown between the old master and the young gun?
He’s no longer as feared as he used to be or considered the best that South African golf has to offer