Major champion Ernie Els believes the shot-makers from the Asian Tour will revel at the inaugural Dubai Open which will be staged at The Els Club Dubai from December 18 to 21.
The South African star, who is an Asian Tour honorary member and international ambassador, said his signature design in the Middle East will offer the Asian Tour stars a challenging test and predicted that the winning score could be around the 12 to 14-under-par mark in what will be the final event of the 2014 Asian Tour season.
“We are so excited. The guys at The Els Club, we’ve kept the course in great shape every year. They are so ready for this golf tournament,” said Els. “Obviously it’s a thrill for us that The Els Club Dubai has been selected as the venue for the Dubai Open. We really couldn’t be more proud.”
As one of the big hitters of the game which has yielded him four Major titles and over 70 international victories, including three Omega Dubai Desert Classic wins, Els said his design philosophy is to challenge players to shape their shots into the greens.
He warned the Asian Tour stars gunning for the Dubai Open crown that some greens would resemble those at Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters Tournament, with drop-off areas punishing less-than-precise iron shots into the flags.
“It’s going to be tough. I like to set up wide fairways because of the way I drive it. You’re going to feel there is plenty of room off the tees at The Els Club Dubai but the second shots will test the players,” said the man nicknamed The Big Easy due to his languid swing and easy-going personality.
“Some of the greens, when the wind blows, it’s going to be very severe. The first green, ninth green and 10th green are going to be severe. It’s really a second shot golf course. A lot of the guys will get it in play but you’ve got to play your second shots to the right position.
“Shot makers will have a good time. On a lot of par threes, you’ve got to draw or fade it and we’ve got a good mix of holes with various lengths. You’ve got to shape a lot of shots to score on the course. The iron play and short game will test the players.
“Players will also find a lot of areas where the balls goes away from the pin, like at Augusta National. And then you’ve got to chip it back onto the green. There won’t be a lot of rough but a lot of shot making will be required.”
Els is extremely proud of his masterpiece at The Els Club Dubai, saying his years traversing the globe as an international golfer has given him various ideas in his design work.
“I took a lot of my ideas from the things I’ve seen around the world. Early on in your designing career, you have to have a concept that you go after. I said to my guys I didn’t want to trick it too much off the tees but test the players with the second shots. I feel in my career, my iron play has been quite good and I’ve been pretty good with my short game as well, hence the design to reward good iron play,” said the South African.
“If they play the Dubai Open off the back tees, it could be very long. I hope the guys will mix the tees around on the par threes and par fives especially. Depending on the wind, you could get the winning score to 12 to 14 under but I could be proven wrong.
“I think the guys will enjoy it although there could be some greens which are a little severe but for the most part, it’ll be a great challenge.”
The Dubai Open is promoted and organised by golf in DUBAi.
The Els Club Dubai is situated within the sprawling Dubai Sports City where the par-72 course combines links style golf with traditional ‘classical era’ design. Opened for play in 2008, the course stretches 7,538 yards and was named as ‘Best New International Course’ by prestigious US magazine, Links, and “Best New Facility of the Year” by Troon Golf.