'Gung-ho' scoring week predicted on new course for European Tour event

A trend of the European Tour visiting new courses since the circuit came out of lockdown continues this week in the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World.

Mikko Korhonen of Finland in action on the Fire Course during practice for the Golf in Dubai Championship at Jumeirah Golf. Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Mikko Korhonen of Finland in action on the Fire Course during practice for the Golf in Dubai Championship at Jumeirah Golf. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The event is being held at a familiar venue for players as Jumeirah Golf Estates is the home of the season-ending DP World Championship, which takes place next week.

But, while that is played on the Earth Course, the newest addition to the 2020 circuit, which starts on Wednesday, is on the neighbouring Fire Course.

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“I’ve been on tour now for 10, 11 years, and it’s very rare that you play a new golf course,” said former Masters champion Danny Willett.

“This year I’ve probably played six or seven new golf courses around the world, both on the European Tour and PGA Tour.

“That has been tricky-ish to adapt to in that week-to0week usually you pitch up and you know the place, you know where you are going.

“With us all being in bubbles and playing new golf courses where the European Tour has been able to create playing opportunities, it has been a bit of a strange year. But you have to adapt, do the best you can and see how you get on.”

Willett and fellow major winner Martin Kaymer head a field that also includes a posse of Scots led by Bob MacIntyre, Marc Warren, Stephen Gallacher and Grant Forrest.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty gung-ho week,” predicted Willett. “I would have thought 18-20 under par winning as it’s nowhere near as firm as you often see the Earth Course get.”

Concurring, two-time major champion Kaymer said: “It’s not the most difficult golf course which we’ll play, which is also a danger – you take it too easy and think it’s a birdie-fest.

“On golf courses that are wide open I sometimes struggle to pick small targets. You think you can just hit it somewhere down there but it’s easy to get carried away with that attitude.

“But you can see it’s a resort course, it’s for amateurs and they can have a great time. We will have a lot of birdies this week.”Also flying the Saltire in the event are Ewen Ferguson, Liam Johnston, Craig Howie, Daniel Young and Euan Walker.

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