on Worldwide Golf



Some of the best players in the world are set to tee it up in the region to kick off their 2024 season as the Middle East plays host to a new-look Desert Swing, which comprises the first five tournaments on the DP World Tour’s International Swing.


The inaugural Dubai Invitational will kick start proceedings before trips to the Hero Dubai Desert Classic for the 35th time and Ras Al Khaimah Championship for the third consecutive season. The Bahrain Championship will round things off in the UAE, until the Abu Dhabi Championship returns in November, with the DP World Tour visiting the Kingdom for the first time in 13 years, before the pros make the short trip to Doha for the 27th edition of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.




The Dubai Invitational launches in Dubai this month, with Dubai Creek Resort playing host to DP World Tour pros, celebrities and amateurs from across the world in this new biennial Pro-Am event hosted by Abdulla Al Naboodah.


The Emirati businessman has a proud history of hosting the biggest and best names in the game, having previously launched The Invitational hosted by Abdulla Al Naboodah back in 2007 as a way to thank business associates and clients of the Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group for their efforts. From there, the tournament evolved into the most prestigious ‘invitation only’ charity Pro-Am in the region, with star names such as Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood all competing over the years.


“The United Arab Emirates has played a significant role in the global growth of golf, with its world-class courses and enthusiastic golfing community,” said Abdulla Al Naboodah, who will welcome Rory McIlroy and Nicolai Højgaard to Dubai Creek after the duo confirmed their attendance last month. “The inaugural Dubai Invitational will welcome global business leaders and celebrities from around the world to play alongside some of the world’s top professionals over three days and Rory’s participation further underscores the UAE’s prominence in the international golfing landscape.”


European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald, World Number 14 Tommy Fleetwood, and four-time DP World Tour winner Ryan Fox will also join in the fun, while a host of celebrities are expected to be announced soon. “It’s great to start my 2024 season at the Dubai Invitational,” said Donald. “We always get a lot of support from the fans when the Tour visits Dubai. It’s a cool place to play golf and with the added novelty of this being a brand-new event on the calendar, I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic experience for everyone.”




Opened in 1993, Dubai Creek’s Championship Course features an 18- hole, par-71 layout originally designed by Karl Litten before its redesign in 2004 led by European legend Thomas Bjorn. Hugging Dubai’s Creek, the 18-hole Championship course and its unique, sail-shaped clubhouse is no stranger to playing host to prestigious events, with the Dubai Desert Classic played there in 1999 and 2000. David Howell and José Cóceres were the respective victors in those two editions, while more recently the next generation of stars were going head-to-head on the desert oasis when the club hosted the 2021 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which was won by then World Amateur No.1 Keita Nakajima.



Dubai resident MG Keyser shot a course record 61 on the first day of the Mena Tour’s Dubai Creek Open in 2017, before Rayhan Thomas, who was born in Dubai, equaled the feat on his then home track the following day. The Indian carded nine consecutive birdies en route to his 61, which tied the world record for an Official World Golf Ranking event.



The Hero Dubai Desert Classic returns for a milestone 35th edition, with Rory McIlroy aiming to become the first four-time winner of the prestigious event. McIlroy memorably matched Els’ record of three tiles when he lifted the trophy for a third time last year, edging out American Patrick Reed on a dramatic final day over the Majlis Course.


“It meant a lot to lift the Dallah trophy for a third time,” said McIlroy. “I’ve enjoyed a lot of success at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic over the years, so adding another title was the perfect way to start the year. “I love coming to Dubai and the support we get from fans is always special. I look forward to getting back to Emirates Golf Club in January, and hopefully creating a bit of history.”


The Northern Irishman will be joined in the field by Champion Golfer of the Year Brian Harman along with Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Cameron Young, who have all confirmed the attendance at the ‘Major of the Middle East’. “I’m excited to tee it up in Dubai for the first time,” said Harman. “It looks like a stunning venue that has identified great champions. I’d love to add my name to that list.”


If he were to add his name to the roll of honour, he would be joining a Who’s Who of golfing royalty. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros are just a handful of illustrious names to get their hands on the Dallah Trophy at the longest-running DP World Tour event to be held outside of Europe having started in 1989.



You could cut the tension with a knife during last year’s Monday finish, following persistent rain, with McIlroy getting the edge over LIV rival Reed after the duo had locked horns at the beginning of the week in what was dubbed as tee-gate.


This all came about after Reed was caught on camera throwing a tee at McIlory because he ignored him on the driving range. “Patrick came up to say hello and I didn’t really want him to,” McIlroy said. “From my recollection, that was it. I didn’t see a tee. I didn’t feel a tee. Obviously someone else saw that. But it’s definitely a storm in a teacup. I can’t believe it’s actually turned into a story, it’s nothing. “I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve. Trying to have a nice time with my family and someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers that, you’re not going to take that well. “I’m living in reality, I don’t know where he’s living. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t expect a hello or a handshake.”


Reed responded: “We all know where it came from, being part of LIV. Since my tees are Team Aces LIV tees I flicked him one. It was kind of a funny shot back. Funny how a small little flick has turned into basically me stabbing him and throwing a tee at him. “It’s unfortunate because we’ve always had a good relationship. But it is one of those things, if you’re going to act like an immature little child then you might as well be treated like one.”


It was a bizarre affair, but it only added to the excitement of the week.



Last year, the tournament became the first golf event in the Middle East and first within the Rolex Series to achieve GEO Certified® Tournament status, demonstrating the event’s leadership among sustainable golf events.



Last year, Daniel Gavins won his second DP World Tour title in the most dramatic of circumstances at the spectacular coastal venue of Al Hamra Golf Club, as he claimed victory by just one stroke after a double bogey on the 72nd and final hole. The Englishman had a threestroke lead on the 18th tee but found the water twice on the daunting closing hole, however he held his nerve on the green as he made a 25-foot putt to take the title.


“It was fantastic to win my second DP World Tour title in Ras Al Khaimah, but I would have liked for it to have been less stressful,” said Gavins. “I’m really pleased with how I kept my composure and made that putt on the last, it’s a moment I’ll always remember and it’s something I’m very proud of.”


The Englishman will be joined in the field by fellow DP World Tour winners Rasmus Højgaard, Pablo Larrazábal and Thorbjørn Olesen, with the former looking follow in his twin brother Nicolai’s footsteps when he tees it up in Ras Al Khaimah, after Nicolai won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2021.


“You want to win every time you play a tournament, and my brother and I are very competitive, so it would be special to see both of our names on the same trophy,” said Højgaard. “I really feel as though I had an opportunity to win last year, so I’m hoping to make amends when I return to Al Hamra.”



The back nine at Al Hamra Golf Club proved a stern test for the field, with six of the holes after the turn all playing over par across the week. Only the par four 13th and the 14th and 18th – both par fives – played under their number. The week’s collection of the three toughest holes on the Fortinet Threat Score were the par four 12th, par four tenth and par three 17th which yielded only one eagle between them across the four days of competition.



The G4D Tour will travel to Ras Al Khaimah for the first time and will feature eight male players and two female players. This year’s calendar boasts eight tournaments in five different countries, with a revamped format that introduces both Gross and Net tournaments for the first time, to ensure that golfers across a wider spectrum of disabilities can compete for glory. G4D Tour @ Ras Al Khaimah Championship will be a Net event, meaning the leading male and female golfers on the Net World Rankings for Golfers with a Disability (WR4GD) will receive an invitation to compete.



The DP World Tour is set to return to the Kingdom of Bahrain for the first time in 13 years when Royal Golf Club hosts the inaugural Bahrain Championship at the beginning of next month.


His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King of the Kingdom of Bahrain, is known to be a passionate practitioner and enthusiast of this sport, and was a driving force in the DP World Tour making its long awaited return to the Kingdom. Former Ryder Cup Captain Bjorn, who is Denmark’s most successful golfer of all-time with 15 DP World Tour wins to his name, will return to the Kingdom for the first time since finishing in a tie for 44th at the 2011 Volvo Golf Champions.


“I am looking forward to returning to Bahrain in February and seeing how the country has changed since my last visit almost 13 years ago,” said Bjorn, who has twice enjoyed success here in the Middle East with victories in the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic and the 2011 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. “The beauty of the DP World Tour is we get to visit so many interesting places and help bring golf to new audiences, and I am thrilled to help to achieve that with the Bahrain Championship.


“I would like to thank His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for welcoming us to his Kingdom and I can’t wait to visit early next year.” Dan Bradbury, Alex Fitzpatrick, Yannik Paul and Jordan Smith have also been announced to tee it up at the fourth event on the DP World Tour’s International Swing.



The DP World Tour’s last visit to Bahrain came back in 2011, with Paul Casey emerging victorious at the Volvo Golf Champions in what he described as “one of the toughest battles I’ve ever had” after an astonishing 23 changes at the top of the leaderboard on the final day.


The Englishman arrived at the 72nd hole level with Peter Hanson, but the latter went from rough to sand before missing a par putt from 10ft to gift Casey victory at the Colin Montgomerie-designed Royal Golf Club. “It feels fantastic – the most important thing to me is winning and that was huge,” said Casey at the time. “The goal is obviously the Majors, but how are you going to win Major Championships if you can’t win regular events?”



Royal Golf Club course has undergone extensive upgrades ahead of the Bahrain Championship. Among the key enhancements is the upgrading of a number of greens on the front nine to ensure it is in prime condition to welcome the elite stars of the DP World Tour. “It show you the commitment the board has in the facility reinvest and make those changes,” said DJ Flanders, Executive Vice President of Troon International. “To host this Tour event shows how much Royal Golf Club continues to push quality. It’s a special golf club and one I would recommend to everyone to go and play. Bahrain is great.”



The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters will be the fifth stop on the International Swing – and the last of five in the Middle East – before the Swing concludes in Africa, after the event was added to the calendar last month.


The tournament, which hosted its inaugural edition in 1998, has an impressive roll of honour with the likes of Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott all lifting the impressive Mother of Pearl Trophy over the years. That majestic trophy is arguably the most unique on the DP World Tour, with the silverware considered a symbol of the rich Qatari heritage, as pearl diving and trading have been the mainstay and backbone of the Qatari culture and identity for so long, evoking historical significance and strong social and emotional bonds amongst Qataris.


Just like its name implies, the Mother of Pearl Trophy is unique, strong, resilient, and is a source of pride to those who own and carry it. So who will get their hands on it this year? Currently no players have been announced, but driving the ball long and straight has been the key to success in the past as demonstrated by the previously mentioned trio of champions.


“Driving the ball is key as conditions get quite tough and the wind can test your game,” said four-time Major champion Els of the challenge of taking on Doha Golf Club. Els is certainly right about that wind, with gusts notorious for creeping up in the afternoon at Doha Golf Club and this can quickly become a force to be reckoned with. Morning tee times, in contrast, tend to be more benign in terms of playing conditions.


“Wind! Lots of wind! I love playing in Doha. Depending on the conditions, the golf course can play in several different ways,” said Stenson.“There have been times when I’ve hit a sand wedge into the green in one round, and a 4-iron the very next day. If you ask me, I feel wind is probably the greatest test of skill for any golfer.” You heard it from the Iceman himself – if you can play well in the wind, you stand a decent chance of triumphing in Qatar.



Last year’s Qatar Masters represented the final chance for players to earn their full playing privileges on the DP World Tour for this season.Among those was Scott Jamieson, who started the week 119th on the Race to Dubai Rankings, with the top 116 securing their card.


With the pressure on, the Scot held his nerve as he carded rounds of 65, 72, 66 and 69 to finish in a share of third place with Spaniard Nacho Elvira to jump up to 82nd on the rankings to comfortably keep his card for a 14th consecutive season. Luckily for Jamieson, this year’s event is a lot earlier in the season so the pressure will be off!



A spectacular new double green was built on holes 9 and 18 before last year’s edition, along with all of the greens being completely relayed. The huge new green wraps around the existing lake, bringing the action closer to the clubhouse, enhancing the building’s visibility during play. The work to the putting surfaces was the first of its kind since the course was first constructed in 1996, with the grass on the greens changing to the paspallum ‘dynasty’ species.