FORMER Moray golfer Derek McKenzie will make his European Tour debut in this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
McKenzie (42) tees off at the Emirates Golf Club on Thursday morning (0455 GMT) in a group with highly-rated Korean Seung-yul Noh and Englishman Andy Sullivan.
He heads out just five groups behind the star-studded trio of world number 1 Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and holder Stephen Gallacher.
The likes of Ernie Els, Miguel Angel Jiminez, John Daly, Mark O’Meara, Fred Couples and Jose Maria Olazabal are also taking part in the event, which is screened live on Sky Sports.
McKenzie, who honed his skills on the fairways of Elgin and Forres before taking his career overseas, is manager of a golf resort in Thailand.
He plays on the Asian development tour and landed an invite to the Dubai classic through his friendship with a Dubai golfing magnate.
His playing partner Seung-yul Noh became the second-youngest-ever player to win a European Tour event when he won the Malaysian Open in 2010 at the age of 18.
That year he also made the US Open cut in his first major, and he now plays on the PGA Tour in America.
Last week the Korean finished tied for tenth in the Farmers Insurance Open in California, ahead of big names like Woods (who retired after three rounds), Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley.
Sullivan was a Walker Cup winner at Royal Aberdeen three years ago before turning pro, and landing three top ten finishes in his debut European Tour season last year.