Stars gather for Omega Dubai Ladies Masters

This year’s Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, which tees off at Emirates Golf Club on Wednesday, will boast the strongest field in the event’s history, writes Michael Stoneman

The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters is set to provide a thrilling finale to the 2016 Ladies European Tour (LET) season this week, with the 11th edition of the tournament boasting its strongest ever field.

Among those teeing it up on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club will be nine tournament winners from this year’s LET as well as 19 players who featured in golf’s historic return to the Olympic Games at Rio 2016.

Defending champion Shanshan Feng, who won Olympic bronze in Rio, will headline the field, with the Chinese world no. 4 glad to be back in the UAE as she seeks to win a third successive Dubai Ladies Masters title and a fourth in the last five years.

“I love coming back to Dubai,” said Feng, who won by a record 12 shots last year. “I love the golf course and love how the tournament is set up.”

Among those set to challenge Feng’s supremacy on the Majlis Course will be the USA’s Beth Allen, who is already assured of the LET Order of Merit title having won the Lacoste Ladies Open de France and Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open this year.

Norway’s two-time Major champion Suzann Pettersen will also be eyeing the top of the leaderboard as she makes her debut at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, with the 35-year-old world no. 16 looking forward to playing in the emirate for the first time.

“It’s amazing that it’s taken me this long to come here because from what I’ve heard, this is the best tournament all year round on the European schedules, not just from the girls, but from the guys when they are here,” she said this week. “A great golfing town and great city: obviously great everything. I’m very happy to be here.”

Also among the 108 players at Emirates Golf Club will be Indian teen sensation Aditi Ashok, who has guaranteed LET Rookie of the Year honours following back-to-back wins at the Hero Indian Women’s Open and Qatar Ladies Open last month. England’s Charley Hull will be full of confidence after winning the LPGA Tour Championship in Florida three weeks ago, while Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum already has excellent form over the Majlis Course, having won the 2013 title and finished tied fourth last year.

Social media star Paige Spiranac is sure to attract plenty of attention as well, as she returns to the tournament at which she made her professional debut last year.

“I just want to enjoy this experience and enjoy being in Dubai,” said the 23-year-old, who has almost one million followers across Instagram and Twitter. “The course is incredible. It's in such great shape. I know if I stick to what I'm doing, I'll have a good tournament.”

With such a fine field assembled for the final LET event of the year, it’s safe to say that golf fans everywhere can prepare themselves for far more than just a “good tournament”.