Paul Doherty clinches Dubai Desert Classic spot

As Russell Knox prepares to continue his globetrotting start to the season in Mexico this week, fellow Scot Paul Doherty has secured the biggest opportunity of his career.

By finishing third on the MENA Tour money list after the season-ending Tour Championship at Al Ain, Doherty earned a spot in the Omega Dubai Desert 
Classic next February. The former Scottish Boys’ champion laid the foundations for his tasty reward by winning the Royal D’Anfa Open in Morocco in April before backing that up with a second-placed finish in the Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open at Al Badia, where he equalled the course record with a first-round 64.

Doherty, whose older brother
Jack is preparing for the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School starting in Girona on Saturday, will be making his Dubai Desert Classic debut. He’s likely to be lining up in the £1.75 million event alongside Rory McIlroy, who claimed the title earlier this year.

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After making his big breakthrough by winning the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Sunday, Knox could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels back home in Jacksonville Beach. But the new Scottish No 1, having risen more than 50 spots to world No 31, has honoured his commitment to contest the OHL Classic at Mayakoba starting today in Playa del Carmen.

If Knox decides to take out European Tour membership in 2016 so that he can be eligible for the Ryder Cup, he could play in either the Desert Classic or the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship a fortnight before.

Definitely teeing it up in the opening event of the Desert Swing are McIlroy, world No 1 Jordan Spieth and Scottish Open champion Rickie Fowler.

Spieth, who will be making his debut in the event, said: “I love to travel and see the world and I am excited to not only play in the event but also checking out Abu Dhabi for the first time.”