Victor Perez. Pic: V Krishnaswamy
Victor Perez has arrived at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic with a spring in his step after claiming his maiden Rolex Series title last week as the Frenchman bids to make it two in a row in Dubai.
The 30-year-old finished top of the leaderboard at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Sunday after kicking off his 2023 DP World Tour season at the Hero Cup and admitted he will approach this week carefully due to the quick turnaround before he tees off at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday.
India’s line player in the field is Shubhankar Sharma, who was tied seventh last week at Abu Dhabi.
Perez’s recent fine form – he also took 3.5 points from four matches at the Hero Cup as Continental Europe beat Great Britain and Ireland – has played out in front of Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald and the three-time DP World Tour winner is now riding high in the standings to make the team for Rome later this year.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Min Woo Lee is determined to keep his foot down in Dubai after starting the 2023 season the way he finished last year. The 24-year-old has been in flying form and tees it up at the second Rolex Series event in as many weeks on the back of a runner-up spot at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.
Lee’s share of second place – just one shot behind Perez – was his fifth top-five finish in his last seven events on the DP World Tour. He finished third twice in Spain in October and again at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open in Melbourne, having tied for fourth at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.
He was also tied eighth at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and in a share of 12th place at the DP World Tour Championship. Lee partners Perez and Belgian Thomas Pieters for the first two rounds and they are off at 7:50am on Thursday.
Perez said, “It couldn’t have been a better start. After the Hero Cup, I was feeling pretty good with my game, but to be able to back it up in a 72-hole tournament is a completely different story and I was just really happy to carry on that form and eventually get the victory.
“The balance is always difficult because you know how hard it is to win. You want to enjoy your performance. You want to enjoy and celebrate with your team but you also know that the next event is equally as big as the one you played.
“So you want (to be) doing things in a certain order that have allowed you to get the best chance of winning and you want to try to replicate that the best you can the following week, which is never easy.”
“I think everybody wants to qualify. Everybody wants to make the team. Everybody wants to contribute in winning. But I try to look at it more as a little bit, a holistic view as it’s part of your journey if the chips ended up falling that way, and it goes for what it is.
“I think I’ve learned that the only thing that matters in making the team is you just need to be in the points the week before.
Last week’s runner-up Min Woo Lee added, “It’s been awesome. Had a nice year last year, especially finishing like that, and started off on the right foot this year.
“It was a close call last week and it’s been an amazing start. The form has been just out of nowhere and I think putting less pressure on myself and doing the best I can on each shot. It’s nice.”
“I think it’s just not caring about winning too much, and it’s funny, because it’s just the realisation, if I didn’t play good in the Spain events, I would have taken time off and not made it to DP World Tour Championship because I think I just didn’t really care how I went.
“I ended up playing well, strung a lot of top-fives. My worst is top-12 in the last seven events. So I think it’s a bit of both technical and a bit of mental approach I guess.”