A FORMER Elgin golfer could be teeing off with sporting giants Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy after landed a dream date in the Dubai desert.
Derek McKenzie will play in January’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the luxurious Emirates Golf Club, which attracts some of the sport’s biggest names all vying for a share of the $2.5 million purse.
Originally from Elgin, where his family is still based, McKenzie (42) earned an invite to play in one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world through his friendship with Mohamed Juma Buamaim, the CEO of Golf In Dubai who is a major promoter of the sport in his region.
An ex-schoolboy international who honed his skills at Elgin and Forres golf clubs, his current job as general manager at the Santiburi Samui Country Club in Thailand means the Moray man represents his club on the Asian Development Tour.
But joining the entry list for the Dubai showpiece event – which is part of the European Tour – in its 25th year means McKenzie is set to enjoy the biggest high of his golfing career.
“This will be the highlight of mine, and most golfers’ careers,” he said. “It will be one of the best fields for any European Tour event.
“Also, because it is the 25th anniversary for the event they have invited all past champions to play.”
Previous winners include golfing greats Ernie Els, Mark O’Meara, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie and Jose-Maria Olazabal, while the late Seve Ballesteros is set to be represented by his son, Javier.
But World No 1 Woods and McIlroy, the young Northern Irish pretender to his throne, are by far the biggest names confirmed to take part.
Full story in Northern Scot print version.