Dubai: Fred Couples, the first American to win the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, will be returning to the site of his convincing three-shot victory in 1995 when he lines up for honours at the Emirates Golf Club for the 2012 edition of the European Tour event.
Fresh from captaining the US team to victory in the recent Presidents Cup, Couples will join some of the world's leading players in the $2.5-million (Dh9.17 million) event, promoted and organised by Golf in Dubai, from February 9 to 12.
One of the hottest stars on the PGA Tour in the nineties, Couples, at 52, is still a force to be reckoned with. The 1992 Masters champion left the field marvelling in awe at his appetite for action when he won the AT&T Championship by a good seven shots, the largest margin on the Champions Tour last year.
It was his second win of the 2011 season and sixth since joining the 50-and-older Tour in 2010 while his best finish on the PGA Tour this year being tied seventh at the Northern Trust Open. Currently ranked 26th in Career Earnings on the PGA Tour, Couples is looking forward to playing in Dubai and, hopefully, reviving old memories.
"I have so many good memories of the city and it will be fun to play with all of the European Tour players who are dominating the world golf rankings these days," said Couples, who boasts 15 PGA Tour wins besides making it to five Ryder Cup and four Presidents Cup teams.
"I really want to do well. The good thing is that I am feeling great. My body is in good shape," said the veteran American, referring to his chronically bad back.
"Though it's been quite a while since I last visited Dubai, I keep hearing good stories about how dramatically the city has grown over the years... If you look at the tournament's roll of honour, it includes so many great names and that's a tribute to the growing profile of the event," said Couples, who received a cheque of $112,500 for his win in 1995. The winner's purse has since been increased to $416,660.
"I am grateful to Golf in Dubai for the invitation. I can't wait to get started since I like desert golf and love playing in Dubai."
Mohammad Juma Bu Amim, vice-chairman and CEO of Golf in Dubai, said: "We feel a deep sense of pride as we welcome back our former champion. Fred is a great ambassador for the game and the one who enjoys tremendous fan-following all over the world.
"He has been around for a long time, but he continues to find a measure of success while dealing with a deep field. His presence will certainly be a big boost for our event and it will be a treat to watch his seemingly effortless swing that can produce long drives. I wish him the very best and hope he has a pleasant stay in Dubai."