The Desert Swing concludes with a fourth week in the UAE as the Ras Al Khaimah Championship makes its second appearance on the DP World Tour. Here are your five things to know.
Højgaard defends in the desert
Nicolai Højgaard claimed his second DP World Tour title in dramatic fashion 12 months ago as he became the first ever winner of the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. The overnight leader stumbled around the turn in round four and saw a five-shot lead evaporate before finding himself two strokes behind a charging Jordan Smith on the back nine. But he showed exceptional determination over the closing holes, bouncing back with a birdie at the 13th before producing an outstanding eagle on the next, and another two birdies helped him to a four-shot win. The Dane has enjoyed an excellent start to the campaign with top tens in Australia and Abu Dhabi and after also winning 3½ points at the Hero Cup, he will be full of confidence on a happy hunting ground.
Fox looks to tame Al Hamra again
Højgaard was not the only DP World Tour winner at Al Hamra Golf Club last season, with the Ras Al Khaimah Classic taking place the week after his triumph. That was won by Ryan Fox, who finished five shots ahead of Ross Fisher to win his second DP World Tour title and kickstart a stunning camapign. He would end the 2022 season with two wins, four second places and four other top tens as he finished second in the Rankings and won the Seve Ballesteros Trophy as the Player of the Year voted for by his fellow DP World Tour professionals. Could another victory propel him to an even greater 2023?
Curtain comes down on Desert Swing
Since the DP World Tour began playing events in this part of the world over 30 years ago, the Desert Swing has evolved into one of the most anticipated and exciting spells of the season. Last year it gained a second prestigious Rolex Series event and in 2023, it evolved further as it hosted the Hero Cup, with Continental Europe beating Great Britain & Ireland 14½ - 10½ at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. We stayed in the Emirati capital for Victor Perez's maiden Rolex Series triumph at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and then saw Rory McIlroy lift the trophy in a Monday finish after a weather-delayed Hero Dubai Desert Classic. Now we head to a third Emirate for what is sure to be a dramatic finish to the 2023 Desert Swing.
Early momentum builds towards Ryder Cup
We may be eight months away from the biennial spectacular at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club but the Ryder Cup is already occupying minds, especially those who want to represent Europe in Rome. Vice Captains Thomas Bjørn, Nicolas Colsaerts and Edoardo Molinari are all teeing it up this week and will be keeping an eye on some of the players who have made such a big impression in the early weeks of the season. Perez and Adrian Meronk already have victories this season to sit alongside their Hero Cup win, while Højgaard and Guido Migliozzi will look to continue their fine form after impressing for Continental Europe.
Al Hamra puts focus on sustainability
Al Hamra Golf Club is a long-standing venue for the European Tour group - from its hosting of European Challenge Tour events through to its DP World Tour debut last season - and throughout that time it has implemented many sustainability efforts. The club has been retrofitted with LED lights, resulting in a 50% reduction in electricity use, while an automated irrigation system and the removal of 200 sprinkler heads has led to a reduction in water use. No More Bottles will also be on site this week as we encourage spectators to bring their own, with the club reducing its own consumption of single use plastic.
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