The Omega Dubai Desert Classic may be his first start of the season, but Lee Westwood believes his game is rust-free and his confidence on a high.
"I have played a lot more this winter than I would normally do. There is no rust. This is one (Majlis) course that rewards good play. If you hit good, solid shots, you stand a chance," said the former world number one who will head into the 24th edition of the tournament as the clear favourite.
"I should have won when I was up against Miguel (Angel Jiménez) in a play-off in 2010, and then last year I had to birdie the last to force a play-off with Rafa (Cabrera-Bello) and missed it, so I feel like I’ve let a couple slip," he said.
"It’s certainly one I would like to win. I’ve been back here every year apart from one since 1994 and I have a good record," said Westwood who has played in the event 18 times, finishing inside the top ten on seven occasions and coming closest to victory with three runner-up spots in 1999, 2010 and 2012.
"So hopefully this week I’ll play as well as I’ve played the last few years and have a chance again and hopefully finish it off. I feel like I’ve got a chance come Sunday."
Although the Majlis course is not one of the longest courses on The European Tour International Schedule, Westwood believes the longer hitters often profit, adding: "You look at the winners from the last few years and they’re not short – Rory (McIlroy), Alvaro Quiros, Henrik Stenson and Tiger (Woods).
"It’s a sand-based course so you don’t get much run from your tee shots. It certainly helps to be able to reach the par fives in two."
Meanwhile, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic kicks off with the tradition Pro Am Tournament on Wednesday when top players competing in the tournament will team up with local golfers and celebrities, including shock-rock icon Alice Cooper.
In all 52 teams, 26 each in the morning and afternoon sessions will participate in the fun-filled event. The morning session will start at 7.30 am and the afternoon session at 1.30pm.
Sergio Garcia of Spain will feature in the OMEGA team, which comprises Adel Zarouni, Abdulfattah Sharaf and Ishwar Jodha at 7.30am while the Chairman’s team will consist of Lee Westwood, Khalfan Kaabi, Alan Thomas and Alice Cooper (12.45 shot gun).
Shaikh Fahim Al Qasimi, chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation, will also play in the afternoon. His team consists of Stephen Dodd, who won the 2012 Mena Golf Tour Order of Merit title, Khalid Mubarak and Rami Al Nuaimi.
Mena Golf Tour will also have their own team which will be led by Barry Lane, the only golfer who has played in every Omega Dubai Desert Classic since its inception in 1989, Khalid Al Halyan, Kamal Kosta and His Excellency Hasan Al Suwaidi.