European Tour legends – and former Omega Dubai Desert Classic winners – Thomas Bjørn and Colin Montgomerie, were full of praise for the flourishing European golf scene as they prepared to tee it up at Emirates Golf Club this week.
Bjørn, a 15-time European Tour winner and the current European Ryder Cup Captain, famously overcame Tiger Woods to take the title in 2001, and he has arrived in Dubai once again in a positive frame of mind after witnessing a fantastic weekend for some of Europe’s top stars, as Tommy Fleetwood continued his red-hot run of form by defending his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA title.
The Englishman was joined in the winners’ circle by Spanish pair Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm, who lifted titles in Asia and the United States respectively.
The Great Dane enjoyed a positive weekend of his own in Abu Dhabi, recording an eight under par total to finish in a tie for 30th place.
Montgomerie, meanwhile, is as impressed with the field that will take to the Majlis Course this week as he is with the emergence of Fleetwood and a host of European stars who are making their mark on the world stage.
The Scot, who won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 1996, is competing in his first European Tour event since the 145th Open Championship in 2016. The 31-time European Tour winner is thrilled to make his return to the event amongst a field that includes nine Major champions and 17 of the top 60 players in the Official World Golf Rankings.
World number 17 Pat Perez is looking forward to his first appearance at the event, in the company of a field that includes the last two winners of both the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Masters Tournament – Garcia and Danny Willett – four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy, the 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson, and 2017 Race to Dubai winner Fleetwood.
Thomas Bjørn: “When you wake up on Monday morning and Sergio has won in Singapore and Tommy has won in Abu Dhabi and Jon has won on the PGA TOUR, you can’t help but think that European golf is in very good hands right now. There are some great players. But then you look at what 12 you’ve got to be up against and American golf is also in great hands at the moment. That’s what’s ahead.
“For my own golf last week, it was a pleasant surprise to play four rounds of golf, I have to say. The weekend was nice. I felt like I did play some good stuff and I stayed very patient, and it was nice to get my brain a little bit away from thinking about the team environment.
“I thought Tommy’s performance on Sunday was Major-like. I thought to go and shoot 30 in those conditions when you have to, you know, we can all go and shoot 30 when you’re lying 39th and you move to 14th. But he had to do that. He was trailing. He had to go out on that back nine and do that. And he’s in a great place.”
Colin Montgomerie: “It’s always been a special place this, for me on a personal front, and looking back 22 years ago now when I won here. I think the course has stood the test of time terrifically well over the years. There’s a very strong field. As strong a field as I have witnessed for many, many years here in the Dubai Desert Classic, so everyone’s excited about it.
“Thomas must be thrilled with the state of European golf right now, as we all are. We’re all great fans and love the European game, and I think that he can only be delighted about what’s happening at the weekend there with Sergio winning and Tommy Fleetwood proving himself yet again.”
Pat Perez: “The camaraderie out here, the European group, is fantastic. I have a lot of friends out here. I’ve had a lot of people come up and say, hey, great seeing you. It’s just a different vibe out here. It’s great, I like it. It would be nice to mix in a few more.
“Once you get inside the top 50, you can kind of go that route and try to play some more world events, play against different players and kind of see how you really stand up against everybody.
“The weather is fantastic. The course is fantastic. I’ve always wanted to come here. It’s a desert course – I live in Scottsdale, so we have all desert courses. The grass is pretty similar. I think the layout is fantastic. It’s cool, too, to see all the buildings around and everything. I’m excited about it. I think it’s awesome.”