Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 27th January 2023: Organisers of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic announced the tournament will finish on Monday as World Number One Amateur Ludvig Aberg and England’s Ian Poulter shared the first-round lead on a weather-affected day on Friday.
Following the decision to close the venue to the public on Thursday due to adverse weather conditions, Emirates Golf Club opened its gates to fans to watch the world-class golf and enjoy a wide variety of entertainment.
Play began at 10:00 local time due to a flooded course with the majority of players yet to complete or start their opening round because of Thursday’s rain-delayed start. The DP World Tour later announced that the tournament will conclude on Monday. Round Two will finish on Saturday while Rounds 3 and 4 are scheduled for Sunday and Monday, respectively.
Among the players to take to the course were Sweden’s Aberg, who earned an exemption into the Hero Dubai Desert Classic after finishing the Fall college golf season ranked No. 1 in the PGA TOUR University’s Velocity Global Ranking.
He made a dream start to the tournament with a stunning 65, after recovering from a bogey to make eight birdies.
The 23-year-old Swede topped the Round One leaderboard with 12-time DP World Tour winner Poulter, who made a strong start with seven birdies including back-to-back on the 16th and 17th holes.
World Number One and two-time Hero Dubai Desert Classic champion McIlroy, America’s Patrick Reed, Spain’s Angel Hidalgo and South Africa’s Louis De Jager are all one shot behind, having carded 66.
For McIlroy, he made an impressive start after struggling on Thursday with a sensational birdie-eagle-birdie finish to fire an opening 66.
The Northern Irishman resumed with three holes to play but only needed six shots to finish his round.
The 33-year-old said: “I struggled out there yesterday and today I came out and I don’t know if anything clicked because I don’t think I hit enough shots to know but it was definitely needed. I would have been happy with anything around 70 but to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus.”
Reed, who ended his round with an eagle on the last following five birdies, was happy with the way he performed and praised the groundsmen at the venue for getting the course ready for play.
He said: “I'm obviously really happy with the way I played. I felt like last week wasn't really a reflection of all the hard work I've been doing in the off-season. It was more getting rusty on playing tournament golf.
“I've never seen this place before, and coming in and seeing it for the first time and knowing and kind of realising that it's more of a positional golf course rather than just hit it wherever, and I feel like I had full control of the golf ball and made a couple putts.”
He added: “The ground staff have done an unbelievable job. We're in the desert and we don't expect it to rain. With how much it has rained and for them to get the golf course to not just playable but to get it where it's in really good shape is amazing. It shows how great they are at their craft.”
Away from the golf course, there were a range of entertainment and activities at Tournament Town for adults and children to enjoy.
There will be no public parking on-site on Saturday and organisers are advising people to use the Dubai Metro service with Al Khail Station located just in front of the club’s entrance. Alternatively, RTA and Careem taxis will have a drop-off point outside the club with Careem offering discounted fares to and from Emirates Golf Club with the Code DDC23.
For the latest updates on site access and play, visit the Hero Dubai Desert Classic’s social media platforms @dubaidcgolf.