Golf tour wants second ‘Desert Swing’, says Bjorn
European Tour officials are keen to launch a second 'Desert Swing' in the future, tournament committee chairman Thomas Bjorn said on Tuesday.
February 8, 2012 12:33 by Reuters
This week’s Dubai Desert Classic represents the final leg of the tour’s annual three-week stint in the Middle East that also takes in the Abu Dhabi Championship and the Qatar Masters.
Bjorn told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that senior officials also wanted to branch out to other Gulf states in the coming years.
“We hope places like Oman and Kuwait and maybe Saudi Arabia can also be hosts of European Tour events,” said the 40-year-old Dane.
“That would be the tour’s dream, that we could have an extended tour in the Middle East maybe two times a year … preferably have a swing at the beginning of the year and a swing at the end of the year.”
The Dubai Classic is the oldest of the three existing tournaments, having started in 1989.
“Abu Dhabi at the moment probably gets the strongest field but this event in Dubai has the history,” said Bjorn.
“They are all fantastic events, with great golf courses and facilities. From a players’ point of view that’s what we look for.
CLOSE TO PERFECT
“We accept that not everything can be perfect but this is as close to perfect as it comes. I think that’s why it’s so popular with the players – it’s a great start to the season.”
Bjorn said he was delighted to see world number two Rory McIlroy, third-ranked Lee Westwood and number four Martin Kaymer in this week’s field.
“When you look at the entry list here it’s strong,” he added. “When you have guys like Lee, Rory and Martin – they have other options.
“They could easily take this week off and go and play in Los Angeles next week (at the Northern Trust Open). It shows how much support they want to show for these events that they come here.”
Bjorn enjoyed the best season of his career last year, winning three times, but he said he would not let September’s Ryder Cup dictate his approach to 2012.
He was a member of Europe’s victorious side in the biennial match against United States in 2002 but has not appeared since.
“I’m at an age where I don’t sit down and say the only thing I want to do is make the Ryder Cup team,” said Bjorn.
“I’m playing good at the moment and I want to enjoy that because I’ve seen how quickly it can go the other way.”
Bjorn is just outside the top 10 automatic places in the Ryder Cup points table.
“At 25 or 28 that would have been the only thing on my mind but now I just want to have a good, strong, enjoyable end to my career,” he explained.
“The difference between 10 years ago and now is you could play well and make the Ryder Cup team, now you have to play great,” said Bjorn, referring to the way Europe dominates the top of the world rankings.
The Dane has won 13 times on tour, including the Qatar Masters, Johnnie Walker Championship and European Masters in 2011, and has started this season in reasonable form.
Bjorn was joint third in last month’s Abu Dhabi Championship and tied for 25th at the Qatar Masters which finished on Sunday. (By Matt Smith; Editing by Tony Jimenez) *image from usatoday.com