Dubai Desert Classic: David Drysdale seeks short game improvements

David Drysdale is searching for his first European Tour title
David Drysdale is searching for his first European Tour title

David Drysdale believes a better performance on the greens is the key to him having a successful week at the Dubai Desert Classic.

The 41-year-old from Cockburnspath has made the cut at his last 11 events.

"In the last couple of weeks, I've played some really good golf in the Middle East for probably two-and-a-half to three rounds out of four," Drysdale told BBC Scotland.

"But I just haven't holed the putts I should have."

Following the Abu Dhabi Championship and the Qatar Masters over the past fortnight, the 'desert swing' culminates in Dubai on Thursday and Drysdale is one of six Scots competing.

Drysdale, ranked 30th in the European Tour's Race to Dubai, finished joint-57th in Abu Dhabi and joint-37th in Qatar.

"Preparations are going well and I've been playing some decent stuff the last few weeks," said Drysdale.

"I've been working hard on every aspect of my game and it is improving.

"Consistency has not really been the issue. Ball striking has been good for a couple of years now and tee-to-green golf's been good, so I don't generally put myself in a lot of bother.

"I could always chip and putt the ball better, that's really the key, if I can have a decent putting week then I can have some good results."

The first hole at the Majlis course
The first hole at the Majlis course

Where is it?

The Dubai Desert Classic is held at the Emirates Golf Club's Majlis course.

It is a par-72 track measuring 7,328 yards and was the first grass course in the Middle East.

Who won it last year?

England's Danny Willett holed a brilliant 15-yard putt on the 18th to take the 2016 Dubai Desert Classic title by one stroke on a total of 19 under par.

It was his fourth European Tour win and three months later the Yorkshireman would be wearing a green jacket after a Masters triumph.

The tournament has been running since 1989 and Scotland has a good history in the Dubai Desert Classic, with Colin Montgomerie victorious in 1996 and Linlithgow's Stephen Gallacher winning consecutive titles there in 2013 and 2014.

Stephen Gallacher with the winners' trophy in 2014
Stephen Gallacher with the winners' trophy in 2014

Any Scots in action this year?

Yes. Six of them, including Drysdale and Gallacher.

In each of his first two events of 2017, East Kilbride's Marc Warren posted promising opening rounds of 66 and 69 but then struggled to follow those up with further sub-70 scores despite making the cut both times. But Dubai gives the 35-year-old the chance to rectify that.

Aberdeen's Richie Ramsay was joint top Scot in 37th with Drysdale at the Qatar Masters and the 33-year-old already has three European Tour titles to his name - most recently Morocco's Trophee Hassan II in 2015.

Eight-time winner on the European Tour - Aberdeen's Paul Lawrie - has missed the cut in the two previous desert swing events in 2017 so managing to remain in the field for Saturday and Sunday's play will be progress for him.

Scott Jamieson had a disappointing Qatar Masters after showing early season promise at Leopard Creek and Abu Dhabi. The Glasgow man will aim to show that was just a blip when he plays in Dubai.

Tiger Woods chats with Thomas Bjorn in Dubai
Tiger Woods chats with Thomas Bjorn in Dubai

Big names on the card?

Do they get much bigger than Tiger Woods?

The 14-time major winner continues his comeback following a disappointing Farmers Insurance Open at his familiar Torrey Pines, where he shot a 76 and a 72 and missed the cut.

He is worried about how his back will respond to the long flight to Dubai, where he was winner in 2006 and 2008. It is Woods' first outing at a European Tour event for almost 18 months.

Danny Willett will be there to defend his title, as will 2016 Open champion and Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson.

Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer, World Number 15 Sergio Garcia and 23-time European Tour title winner Lee Westwood are also in Dubai.

What's up for grabs?

The winner of the Dubai Desert Classic gets a cheque for around £352,000.

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