Tom Watson will give this year's Dubai Desert Classic a touch of the golden oldies. The legendary golfer's debut appearance on the Majlis course at the ripe old age of 60 will help to compensate for the expected absence of the tournament's main attraction Tiger Woods, who is taking an indefinite break from the game. Watson showed that advancing years have not yet caught up with him when he went within a whisker of securing a ninth major championship triumph in last summer's memorable British Open at Turnberry.
The popular American needed only a par at the 72nd hole to repeat his famous one-stroke victory over his arch-rival Jack Nicklaus on the same Ailsa course 32 years previously. His failure to hole an 8ft putt that Sunday evening robbed sport of what would have been one of the greatest fairy tale victories in history. Watson, who was comprehensively beaten in a four-hole play-off by his fellow American Stewart Cink, was delighted to accept a "Duel in the Desert" with a yet to be decided field to follow his epic 1977 "Duel in the Sun" with Nicklaus.
"I am anxious to visit Dubai since I have heard so many good things about it," said Watson, who has been a prolific collector of senior titles in recent years. "Additionally, I am looking forward to playing in a city that seems to be making good progress as a golfing destination, possibly due in part to the success of the Dubai Desert Classic. "The tournament has attracted some of the best golfers in the world and the winners' list is quite impressive. "I would be very proud and pleased to be able to add my name to that list." The Dubai Desert Classic has US$2.5million (Dh9.18m) in prize money and runs from February 4-7.