Dubai Desert Classic – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

Emirates GC in Dubai, UAE
Used since inaugural 1989 edition

7,328 yards – Par 72 – TifEagle Bermuda Greens
Fairways and Rough: Bermuda Fairways and Overseeded Rye Rough
Architect: Karl Litten (1988)
10-Year Scoring Average: 71.43 (-0.57 RTP)

Important Interview Quotes

Q. Give us a sense of the conditions. Was it conducive to low scoring?
Yeah, changed the course a little bit this year. They made the greens smaller. So you’ve got a little bit more room, if you do miss a green, there’s a little bit more space before it runs off into the bunkers. The bunkers are playing quite firm. They don’t get any spin out of them this year. I guess slightly easier, and scoring shows that. But still got to get the ball in the hole. -2018

Q. Do you feed off previous performances here?
Yeah, definitely. I know it’s somewhere where I adore coming to. I seem to play pretty well here, and the golf course really does suit my eye. It’s been great. Hopefully many more to come. -2018

Q. Your first look at the golf course this week. What are your thoughts?
It’s very nice. It’s only, yeah, my third round here. I played a few practise rounds and really, really liked it. It’s a little shorter than some of the other courses we play, but it suits me quite well and a lot of fun holes. I like it. -2018

Q. You’ve had a couple of decent finishes here in the past. How much do you feed off those performances?
Yeah, it’s quite funny, actually. It’s not really a golf course that’s ever really seen my eye. I like to hit it left-to-right. Most holes go right-to-left, especially on the back nine. But I’ve always seemed to play quite well here and I think it’s more due to the fact that the condition of the course is unbelievable. You have tight fairways and the rough is really thick and you get penalised for missing fairways. Then the greens are rock hard. I think that’s the key factor.

It just shows, golf course doesn’t need to be ridiculously long for to play challenging. I know the scores are really good this week, but I think that’s down to the fact that we’ve had no wind and the greens are just so pure that everyone is holing putts. I mean, you have rough like this and greens that are firm; if you start missing fairways, it starts showing. So it’s a course from a manicuring point of view that kind of suits my game, but from a whole directional point of view, it’s not quite there. But I seem to perform pretty well in it. -2018

Q. Promising start to the 2018 OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic. Your thoughts on the opening round 66?
Yeah, I’ve had some fond memories here, obviously Top-10 in my first year here, and then obviously the next year, not having the best draw in the world.

I’ve had some decent results, and you know, I enjoy the course. It’s a long, testing golf course, and if you hit fairways and greens, you’re going to shoot something under par. Today I made a few really good putts, something that I’ve been not battling with over the course of probably two years or so, but you know, just not to the standard that I would like it to be. -2018 (funny how Bjork and Aiken just said it was shorter than most)

Q. And when you’re going out on a contemplation like this, we know it’s typically low scoring, early start on the first day, auto you’re not quite sure how it’s playing, do you still have to go out there with a super aggressive attitude for this golf course?
I think you need to be patient on this golf course because you don’t want to get ahead of yourself because it’s not an easy golf course. You’ve still got to perform and hit the right shot at the right time.

This morning, it was quite cold. I was second off in the draw, and the ball was not going fast. So you also need to adapt during the round. The temperature gets up. The ball starts flying a bit longer. So it’s never easy, even though it looks like it sometimes. -2018

Q. Absolutely. And then this golf course, well, it appears you’ve got its number because last year was a good performance, tied third for you last time around. How much do you lean on a result like you’ve had in the past?
Obviously a lot, because there’s just some places that you enjoy or the golf course suits your eye. Some of the tee shots, you look down and they just suit your eye and you’re a bit more calm and I think that helps a lot. So obviously I had a good result here last year and hopefully I can try and beat that. -2018

Q. The past two winners here have gone on to win the Masters. Do you think that’s a coincidence, or do you think there might be some sort of correlation to this as a barometer of bigger things?
It’s definitely a coincidence. Yeah, it’s a coincidence. I wouldn’t read anything into it. But it is great that Danny and Sergio went on to do something very special a couple of events after winning here. So try to keep the run going. Yeah, I don’t think you can read too much into that. -2018

Q. Is there anything about this tournament that makes it a barometer for the first major of the year, given that obviously you and Danny both went on to win the Masters?
I don’t think so. I think it’s just coincidence. It’s not like every time that every guy that has won has won the Masters like three months later or two months later or for that matter, a major throughout that year.

I guess it’s just a coincidence it happened last year and the year before. But you know, neither Danny or I are going to complain about it for sure. -2018

Q. Is there any similarities in the courses [Augusta] at all?
No, not really. Well, I mean, they both have 18 holes. Other than that (laughter). -2018

Q. Tell us how much you’re enjoying yourself so far this week.
I always enjoy Dubai very much, with this beautiful weather and these conditions, the golf course is a golf course that I always like to play. And my game is nice. I hit very nice, solid, control the ball. That’s what you need to do, and I quite enjoy it very much.

It’s a nice golf course. I’ve won here in 2010, and a golf course where I feel like I can defend myself with my game, and here we are. -2018

Q. Do you see any characteristics in this course as to why it’s produced the last two Masters Champion or is it just a coincidence?
Definitely a drawer’s golf course. It’s where my eye found back in the day, I could move it easily right-to-left and obviously Augusta is very similar. It’s very early in the season to compare the winner here to having a chance to win Augusta, but there’s got to be something there now, with the last two winners won Augusta. I think that’s why the field’s so strong, too. It’s a wonderful field here. All the way from the U.S. and South Africa, all the way around the world, this is really one of the strongest fields running into Augusta. -2018

Q. Just coming back to this tournament, you’ve played the course. What did you think of it and whether it suits your eyes?
It does. It’s a desert course, which I live in Scottsdale, so we have all desert courses. The grass is pretty similar. They are small greens, but the layout’s right in front of you. You hit it in your spot, hit it on the green. 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. -2018

Q. Were the conditions a factor?
Yeah, they were tough. I thought where some of the pin positions were and where the wind direction was, it was tough to get close to some of them with how firm the greens were.

Yeah, conditions were tougher than they had been the last three days. I think the scores reflected that. But you know, again, the conditions didn’t really — wasn’t a factor in the bad 9-iron and the 3-putt on 13. -2018, R4

CLARE BODEL: Henrik, you’ve played at this course so many times, this tournament so many times; you’ve lived in Dubai; what is it about this place that suits you?
I think it’s obviously a golf course that suits my game. I won here in 2007 and had some other good finishes. So you’ve got to hit the fairways most of the times, if you don’t like playing off the sand. So hitting fairways, that’s something I normally do pretty well. Position yourself on the greens and then you’ve got to roll it in.

Yeah, it’s a course that suits my game, but I think also having had Dubai as my base for ten years, I’m very familiar with the golf course. I played it many, many times, as you said, and just the feel of being home again, seeing the familiar faces, and it’s always a great start-up for me in the season. Good practice, good weather, good food. There’s a lot of positives coming here to the Middle East and starting off the year. -2017

CLARE BODEL: Curtis, fantastic year for you last year. You won the US Amateur Championship and gave yourself an exemption for a couple of big tournaments this year; No. 2 ranked amateur golfer in the world and here you are in Dubai taking part of this tournament with a fantastic field. How does it feel? Are you looking forward to this week?
Yeah, very excited to get the week underway. Played my first nine holes yesterday. Just played the back nine and the course is unbelievable. You can definitely tell it’s probably the most established course in the UAE. Lots of nicely-grown trees out there, which was a little different to Abu Dhabi. And it’s a little bit more tree-lined, which is nice. -2017

Q. You’ve had a top five in the past and you have that in your record; how do you enjoy this format, this course?
Yeah, I’ve done well here before. Normally it suits a bit of right-to-left off the tee. I seem to have a bit of left-to-right just now. But yeah, I think if I can just manage that, hopefully can continue that over the next few days. -2017

Q. Can you just talk about conditions?
Yeah, obviously it was very, very windy out there. It seems likes it’s calmed down very fast all of a sudden. So they called play for the day, but could understand how the guys in the morning feeling a little bit hard done to. -2017, R2

Q. When they called play, was it the right decision? Balls moving on the green?
Yeah, just before that, we saw this one tree go down — you get a warning from the chairman, it’s about to collapse and start squeaking. I was walking under the trees hearing the squeaking and thinking, this could be me. It’s a little bit dangerous out there with the trees collapsing and stuff. Well, hopefully tomorrow will be better. -2017, R2

Q. Difficult conditions. Can you talk about how bad it was out there?
It was definitely the worst conditions I’ve ever played golf in in Dubai; I know that much. It was blowing very hard, a lot of dust in the air, trees coming down. Feels a lot calmer right now, though. But yeah, can’t control the weather, unfortunately, and we’ll be back to play some more golf tomorrow. -2017, R2

Q. Can you give me a rundown of the situation that’s unfolded here in Dubai, please?
Yes, we’ve had a fairly challenging day today with the wind. Very strong winds this morning and gusting up to about 27 miles an hour. Those winds increased during the course of lunch time into the early afternoon to the point where we had gusts approaching 36 and beyond.

The result was the sort of last hour of play, effectively, before we suspended, about 2.25. 2.26, it was such that we had a lot of things going on on the golf course. We had TV towers that the roofs were blown off. We had balls moving on the greens — blew into a bunker at one stage, five trees came down, could it was very unsafe and it was unplayable. So we brought the players off the golf course, in the interests of play and safety to the spectators, as well. -2017 R2

Q. You seem to have an affinity with Dubai golf. Is there something you like about it out here?
I love being out here. The golf courses are fantastic and always in good condition. Quick greens is what players like, so I always look forward to coming back. -2017

Past Previews

2018 Desert Dubai Classic Preview
2017 Desert Dubai Classic Preview