New talents Hovland, Imahira add shine to Dubai Desert Classic

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Field also boasts of former champions Stenson, Willett and Cabrera Bello

Dubai: Viktor Hovland and Shugo Imahira, two of golf’s wannabe stars, will make their first appearance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic when they arrive at Emirates Golf Club later this month, lining up against a host of Major champions, Ryder Cup players and serial European Tour winners.

They will be joined in the UAE by the more experienced Charl Schwartzel, himself a former Masters winner, who will head to the event looking to build some momentum after an injury-hit 2019. Schwartzel, who has struggled with a wrist injury for much of the last year, will arrive in Dubai looking to rediscover the form that has seen him claim 11 victories on Europe’s top tier, including at the 2011 Masters.

Schwartzel adds to South Africa’s rich heritage in the event and will be looking to emulate his fellow countryman and past champions Ernie Els and Wayne Westner in getting his hands on the Dallah trophy.

This year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, to be held from January 23-26, boasts a stronger field than 12 months ago, thanks to the return of defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, alongside former tournament champions Thomas Bjorn, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Sergio Garcia, Haotong Li, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett. This is in addition to the likes of multiple European Tour winners Tommy Fleetwood, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, plus European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington.

Already well on his way to establishing himself among those marquee names is Hovland, who will excite local fans with an aggressive approach that yielded a record-breaking run of scoring on the US PGA Tour last year. The 22-year old Norwegian shot 19 straight rounds in the 60s from June to October, posting a highest finish of fourth at the Wyndham Championship during that run, which confirmed his credentials as one of golf’s hottest prospects.

“I’ve spent the last few years playing mostly in America, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to come to Dubai,” said the Norwegian, who will be eyeing a potential European Ryder Cup debut later this year.

Similarly, Imahira will arrive in Dubai looking to add to his burgeoning international resume following several successful campaigns on his native Japan Golf Tour. “I’m excited to be coming to Dubai for the first time to make my European Tour debut,” said Imahira, who won the Japan Golf Tour Money List in 2018. “I have not played much outside of Japan, so this is a great opportunity to see how my game shapes up next to some of the world’s best players. I have also heard amazing things about this event and Dubai as a destination, so I cannot wait to experience everything later this month.”