DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Dubai was once known as the City of Gold. Now it’s more like the City of Grit. There are so many construction sites in this city, it’s sometimes hard to tell cement grit from the desert sand. Still, there’s a golf tournament taking place amid the half-finished buildings and the gridlock on the Sheik Al Zayed road, the main artery between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Here are five storylines to watch for in this week’s $2.5 million Dubai Desert Classic:
How will Tiger fare in the battle for world supremacy?
With the top world’s three players in the field – Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods – talk has inevitably turned to who will emerge on top. Woods is fighting his game, Westwood hasn’t woken from his winter slumber, while Kaymer already has a win under his belt, an emphatic victory in the Abu Dhabi Championship three weeks ago. He would appear to be early leader in the clubhouse. Watch for the three to be paired together in the first two rounds, which should spice up the tournament.
Will Woods keep control of his golf ball?
The former World No. 1 didn’t look two happy with the way he was hitting it on the range when he arrived in Dubai. He had a golf glove lodged under his right armpit. His iron play looked fine, but he didn’t look too comfortable with the big stick.
Will Elliot Saltman appeal his cheating ban?
The Scotsman needs to file an appeal by Feb. 16 against his three-month ban for moving his ball improperly in Russia on last year’s European Challenge Tour. The feeling on the range is he should accept his medicine and move on.
Can Rory McIlroy get back in the winner’s circle?
McIlroy’s only European Tour win came here in Dubai, the 2009 Desert Classic. The Northern Irishman loves the place. Always has. Will it inspire him to another victory?
How will English amateur Tom Lewis fare?
A great prospect who should feature in this year’s Walker Cup. One of two amateurs in the field, the Englishman has the game to make the cut and play with Europe’s best on the weekend.