Old mas­ter young gun

Likely to tri­umph

CityPress - - Sport -

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

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