European Tour -Desert swing preview 2014
The European Tour's Desert Swing is slowly, but surely establishing itself as the stand out curtain raiser to each new season. While the PGA Tour has been in Hawaii with less than stellar fields and the European Tour itself has been in South Africa, it is the Desert Swing that signals the arrival of the games superstars onto the 2014 scene.
The Desert swing is made up of three events – The Abu Dhabi Championship 16-19 Jan, The Qatar Masters 22-25 Jan and The Dubai Desert Classic 30th Jan - 2nd Feb. These tournaments have gradually forged themselves a distinct position within the golfing calendar and with a combined prize fund of $7.7M in addition to appearance fees they now attract the worlds best players.
On Thursday the first event of the Desert Swing will get under way in Abu Dhabi. While Tiger Woods has axed the event from his calendar in favour of the Dubai Desert Classic it still features the likes of Rory McIlory, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Luke Donald.
McIlroy will be hoping to continue some great end of season form that saw him win in Australia late in 2013 showing signs that he might just be back to his best. his personal life is also more settled following his engagement to Caroline Wozniaki. Big things are expected of him in 2014 and he will be hoping to use Abu Dhabi and the Desert Swing as a springboard to challange at this years majors.
Mickelson will also be hoping for a fast start to his season, at 43 he is not getting any youngr and will feel that he only has a few years left to capture the elusive last leg of a career Grand Slam - The US Open. Consistency has not been Leftys hallmark in recent seasons and he will be aiming to put that right in 2014.
One man who loves playing in the Middle East is Henrik Stenson. He will enter the tournament as deserved favourite and who would be willing to bet against him picking up another victory following his unbelievable finish to 2013.
The 2nd stage of the Desert Swing will visit Qatar for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. The event has been a fixture on the European Tour for 15 years and was first won in 1998 by Scotsman Andrew Coltart. While maybe not as glamourous as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Qatar still boasts and excellent purse and with it a great field. Headlining are Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Martain Kaymer, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner and John Daly.
The final leg of the Desert Swing is sure to be dominated by one man! Tiger Woods will be in town. Following a few years playing Abu Dhabi Tiger will be returning to his old stomping ground, Dubai where he has won twice and finished runner up on a number of occasions. However he will hoping to get his season off to a better start than he managed last year at Abu Dhabi where he topped his first tee shot 80 yards into thick rough.
Tiger will be joined by fellow American, Fred Couples in addition to Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Matteo Manassero.
Whith great purses, perfect weather and star studded fields, the Desert Swing is sure to deliver yet another three week feast of top quality golfing drama and continues to be the place to be at the start of the golfing year. 2014 is shaping up to be a great season with a series of brilliant stories waiting to be told:
- Will Tiger win that elusive 15th major?
- Will Mcilroy return to the form that saw him become a double major champion and World no.1?
- Are we about to embark on an era of Stenson domination?
- Will Lefty become one of the all time greats and complete a career grand slam?
I for one cannot wait to find out and it all starts this week!
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