Tyrrell Hatton arrives at this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic with a spring in his step as the Englishman targets back-to-back victories in the Middle East, following his triumph last week in Abu Dhabi.
“The win last week still feels a little bit surreal, alongside with where we’ve moved up to in the World Rankings. It doesn’t feel like it was me who won the tournament. Looking forward to this week. It’s nice to be back here in Dubai, I missed the event last year because I was still recovering from wrist surgery. I’ve had some good finishes in the past and I’m hoping I can have another good week this week. I played the Pro-Am, the game still felt pretty good.”
The 29-year-old climbed to a career-high fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking courtesy of his four-stroke win, for his third title in just under a year on both the European Tour and PGA Tour.
“I wouldn’t say I’m uncomfortable with the position I’m in, I just don’t see myself as anything different. It’s not something that I really worry about. I’m just trying to play good golf and the World Rankings take care of themselves if you’re able to do that. Fortunately for me, the last 14 months, I’ve been on a really good run and I’m hoping that continues.”
Hatton has a strong record at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, including a pair of top three finishes and another top ten, so he is feeling confident of a title challenge in the second event of the 2021 Race to Dubai.
The man just ahead of Hatton in the world rankings, World Number Four Collin Morikawa, makes his debut at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic but enjoyed his last visit to the Emirate – clinching a top ten at last year’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
“I’m excited to be back,” said Morikawa. “It’s obviously a long trip over here from the West Coast, 12-hour time difference, but for me it’s exciting, to come out here and compete with some guys that I know and some guys that I’ve obviously seen a lot. And this week is going to be a great test. I look forward to it. Done some pretty good prep. Started off the year on a decent note, and look forward to having a solid week here.
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“This has been an event I kind of knew I was going to come out and play. There were no second thoughts. Obviously with what’s going on with COVID and regulations and bans to travel in and out of countries, you just have to be aware and stay up-to-date with what’s coming at us. But for my sake, the people around me, my team, all we’re trying to do is be as safe as possible.
“I think The European Tour has done an amazing job with this bubble. Even though we’re stuck in our hotel rooms and out on the golf course, at the end of the day, we can come out here and play some golf, which is everything we could ask for.”
Ryder Cup stars Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, make their first appearances of the European Tour campaign as they target crucial qualification points with a view to making it onto Padraig Harrington’s European side for the September showpiece at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin.
“It’s a course that I enjoy and a course that I like playing and I’ve done well in the past,” said Garcia. “It definitely can help. You know, we’ll see, as the week goes on, see how we feel, see how the confidence is and try to build it up as the weeks go on.
“Without a doubt, it’s a big year, a lot of big tournaments to be played and obviously Ryder Cup and Olympics and majors and you know, Race to Dubai and FedExCup. There’s plenty, there’s plenty to choose from.
“So I’m excited about it. Obviously I had a decent finish of the year last year before we got COVID, but excited to hopefully get started well here. I had a pretty decent week in my first week in Hawai’i. Second week was a little bit more up-and-down. I’m just hoping to have a couple good weeks here on the European Tour and head back to the US and keep the run going, I guess.”