The Omega Dubai Desert Classic was born in 1989 when the European Tour visited the Middle East for the first time. The roll of honour includes seven different Major Champions. They are: Seve Ballesteros (1992), Ernie Els (1994, 02, 05), Fred Couples (1995), José Maria Olazábal (1998), Mark O'Meara (2004) , Tiger Woods (2006, 08) and Rory McIlroy (2009). Between them they have won 30 Major Championships.
The $2.5 million tournament, promoted and organized by golf in DUBAi, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014 which saw all former champions -- with the great Seve Ballesteros represented by his son, Javier – descend on the Majlis course to mark the special occasion.
Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy headlined possibly the strongest field ever in the event with three-time winner Ernie Els, Fred Couples and Englishman Barry Lane – the only player to have competed in all 25 editions of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic – joining the fray.
Included in the field were 85 European Tour winners with 401 European Tour victories between them, five European Number ones – Els, Robert Karlsson, McIlroy, Colin Montgomerie and Stenson – 9 major champions with 29 Major titles – Michael Campbell, Fred Couples, John Daly, Els, Paul Lawrie, McIlroy, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara and Woods – and four world number ones – Couples, Els, McIlroy and Woods.
It was Stephen Gallacher of Scotland who created history, becoming the first golfer to successfully defend his title. The highlight of his victory being a third-round 63, which included seven birdies and an eagle on the back nine he completed in 28 shots, equaling the European Tour record.
To add glitter to the silver jubilee of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the organizers offered a handsome $2.5 million purse for a hole in one on the par-4, 17th. The prize, which was valid for the last two rounds, went unclaimed, despite many golfers driving the green.
The main tournament was preceded by the $600,000 Champions Challenge, an 18-hole stroke-play showpiece which featured all former winners along with Ballesteros Jr, who played in the event as an amateur. Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Henrik Stenson shared the spoils when six under par rounds of 66 saw them finish two clear of the chasing pack.
Els, who has won the tournament a record three times, has played 13 times in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic over Emirates Golf Club's Majlis course. In that time he has recorded three victories, nine top threes. Of his 48 rounds on the Majlis course he is a total of 169 under par. Els, who missed the cut in 2009 and 2014, set the current course record of 61 (-11) on the opening day in 1994, which contained a European Tour record of 12 birdies in a single round. He has broken par in 42 of his 48 rounds.
- Since making his first visit to Dubai in 2001, Woods has won the $2.5 million European Tour event twice. He is 94-under-par for the 28 rounds that he has played on the Majlis course.
- Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy, at 19 years and 273 days, became the youngest winner of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic 2009, beating the previous record of England's David Howell, who had won the 1999 edition when he was 23 years and 236 days old. The youngest player ever to win a European Tour event is Italy's Matteo Manassero who captured the Castello Masters Costa Azahar in October 2010 at 17 years and 188 days, smashing the record held by Danny Lee, who was 18 years and 213 days old when he won the 2008 Johnnie Walker Classic.
- Mark O'Meara is the oldest winner of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, a feat he achieved in 2004, aged 47 and 54 days.
- In 2009, Matthew Turner created history, becoming the first amateur from the UAE to make the cut. The teenager posted rounds of 70-72-71-75 for a level-par score of 288 to finish tied 51st. If he were a professional, he would have won euro 8,152.71.
- In 2011, Spain's Alvaro Quiros, who was tied 65th after an opening round of 73, staged one of the biggest comebacks in the history of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, to win the tournament at 11 under. He was eight shots behind the leader after 36 holes.
- The 2011 edition also witnessed a hole-in-hole in every round. It was only the second time in the history of the European Tour that such a feat was recorded. David Howell of England, Keith Horne of South Africa, France's Raphael Jacquelin and 2011 champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain aced the 7th, 4th, 7th and 11th in that order.
- The 2012 winner Rafael Cabrera-Bello represented the first time a Spaniard has won the same European Tour event for three consecutive years since the Mallorca Classic, when Miguel Angel Jimenez won in 2003, Sergio Garcia in 2004 and Jose Maria Olazabal in 2005. With this win, Cabrera-Bello also became the fifth Spanish player to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, following Seve Ballesteroes (1992), Jose Maria Olazabal (1998), Miguel Angel Jimenez (2010) and Alvaro Quiros (2011).
- Two holes-in-one were recorded during the 2012 edition of the event. Scotland's Gallacher aced the par-3, 15th in the first round. He was presented with a gleaming Mercedes-Benz S-Class car for his perfect tee shot. Incidentally, it was Gallacher's second hole in one on the Majlis course, having recorded the same score on the fourth hole in 2005. Germany's Martin Kaymer also scored a hole-in-one (in the second round) on the par-3, seventh - and with it, won a special watch from title sponsors Omega.
|FACTS AND FIGURES|
|Most wins||Ernie Els, 1994, 02, 05|
|Successful title defence:||One (Stephen Gallacher, 2013, 2014)|
|Youngest winner:||Rory McIlroy, 19 years and 273 days (in 2009)|
|Oldest winner:||Mark O'Meara, 47 and 54 days, (in 2004)|
|First amateur from UAE to make the cut||Matthew Turner, 2009 (finished tied 51st)|
|Lowest 18 hole score:||61 (-11), Ernie Els, 1994|
|Lowest first 18 hole score:||61 (-11), Ernie Els, 1994|
|Lowest first 36 hole score:||128 (-16), Tiger Woods, 2001|
|Lowest first 54 hole score:||196 (-21), Stephen Gallacher, 2013|
|Lowest 72 hole score:||266 (-22), Thomas Björn, 2001, Stephen Gallacher, 2013|
|Lowest under par winning score:||266 (-22), Thomas Björn, 2001, Stephen Gallacher, 2013|
|Lowest final round by a winner:||65 (-7), Robert-Jan Derksen, 2003; Tiger Woods, 2008,|
|Wire-to-wire-winners:||Eamonn Darcy, 1990
Seve Ballesteros, 1992
Ernie Els, 1994
José Coceres, 2000
Rory McIlroy, 2009
|Largest 18-hole lead:||5 shots, Ernie Els, 1994|
|Largest 36-hole lead:||6 shots, Ernie Els, 1994|
|Largest 54 hole lead:||8 shots, Ernie Els, 1994|
|Largest winning margin:||6 shots, Ernie Els, 1994|
|Biggest final round comeback by a winner:||4 shots, Tiger Woods, 2008|
|Play-offs:||Mark James beat Peter O'Malley, 1989
Seve Ballesteros beat Ronan Rafferty, 1992
Richard Green beat Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam, 1997
Tiger Woods beat Ernie Els, 2006
Miguel Angel Jiménez beat Lee Westwood, 2010
|Holes-in-one:||Miguel Angel Jiménez, 4th Hole, Rnd 2, 1990 (Emirates)
Chris Moody, 11th Hole, Rnd 3, 1990 (Emirates)
Mark McNulty, 11th Hole, Rnd 3, 1990 (Emirates)
José Coceres, 7th Hole, Rnd 2, 1992 (Emirates)
Wayne Westner, 7th Hole, Rnd 1, 1995 (Emirates)
José Coceres, 4th Hole, Rnd 1, 1996 (Emirates)
Roger Wessels, 7th Hole, Rnd 2, 1996 (Emirates)
Peter Hedblom, 15th Hole, Rnd 2, 1996 (Emirates)
Stuart Cage, 8th Hole, Rnd 1, 1999 (Dubai Creek and Yacht Club)
Peter Downie, 16th Hole, Rnd 1, 2000 (Dubai Creek and Yacht Club)
Henrik Bjornstad, 7th Hole, Rnd 4, 2002 (Emirates)
Brad Kennedy, 4th Hole, Rnd 2, 2004 (Emirates)
Yasin Ali, 7th Hole, Rnd 1, 2005 (Emirates)
Nobuhito Sato, 15th Hole, Rnd 1, 2005 (Emirates)
Stephen Gallacher, 4th Hole, Rnd 4, 2005 (Emirates)
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, 4th Hole, Round 2, 2007 (Emirates)
Miguel Jiménez, 7th hole, Rnd 1, 2008 (Emirates)
Louis Oosthuizen, 11th, Round 2, 2009 (Emirates).
David Howell, 7th, Rnd 1, 2011 (Emirates)
Keith Horne, 4th ,Rnd 2th, 2011 (Emirates)
Raphael Jacquelin, 7th, Rnd 3, 2011 (Emirates)
Alvaro Quiros, 11th, Rnd 4, 2011 (Emirates)
Stephen Gallacher, 15th, Rnd 1, 2012 (Emirates)
Martin Kaymer, 7th, Rnd 2, 2012
|Low cut:||141 (-3), 2001, 07|
|High cut:||149 (+5), 1989|
|ROLL OF HONOUR||1989 - Mark James
1990 - Eamonn Darcy
1992 - Seve Ballesteros
1993 - Wayne Westner
1994 - Ernie Els
1995 - Fred Couples
1996 - Colin Montgomerie
1997 - Richard Green
1998 - Jose Maria Olazabal
1999 - David Howell
2000 - Jose Coceres
2001 - Thomas Bjorn
2002 - Ernie Els
2003 - Robert-Jan Derksen
2004 - Mark O'Meara
2005 - Ernie Els
2006 - Tiger Woods
2007 - Henrik Stenson
2008 – Tiger Woods
2009 – Rory McIlroy
2010 - Miguel Angel Jimenez
2011 - Alvaro Quiros
2012 - Rafael Cabrera-Bello
2013 - Stephen Gallacher
2014 - Stephen Gallacher