x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy commit to Dubai Desert Classic

The world's top-ranked players will play in the 25th iteration, the tournament organisers have said.

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have played in the UAE on several occasions before. Charlie Riedel / AP Photo
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have played in the UAE on several occasions before. Charlie Riedel / AP Photo

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, the world's top-ranked players, have committed to play in the 25th Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the tournament organisers Golf in Dubai said on Wednesday.

Woods has won twice in six appearances at Emirates Golf Club, joining Ernie Els as the only two-time winners at the European Tour's oldest event in Asia as well as the Mena region.

"Having won twice, I have really good memories of playing in Dubai and look forward to getting out there and being part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the tournament," Woods said.

McIlroy's first victory as a professional came in Dubai in 2009, when he was only 19. As a 17-year-old amateur, in 2007, it was at Emirates Golf Course that he made the cut at a European Tour event for the first time

"It always feels nice to get back to a golf course where you have enjoyed success," the Northern Irishman said. "Obviously, I will be looking to win again.

"I've got great memories of the course and of this tournament. It was nice to get my first professional win in Dubai. I had my parents there with me, and it was a special moment that I will never forget.

"To think the tournament is older than I am is testimony to its strength."

His appearance would be his eighth at the event, more than he has played anywhere else.

The former Dubai champions Mark O'Meara and Jose Maria Olazabal also have committed to play in the tournament, which begins on January 30 and ends on February 2.

"It will be fun to play alongside former winners and revive some old memories," said Olazabal, who won in 1998 and was the captain of the victorious European Ryder Cup team last year.

O'Meara won in Dubai in 2004, and the American said: "The landscape of Dubai has changed dramatically, as is the case with golf in the region, but the giant silver Arabian coffee pot still serves as a valued treasure holding much significance to the players."

Woods did not play in Dubai this year or last; he appeared at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship instead.

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and chief executive of golf in DUBAi, said: "We are delighted with early confirmation of four of our past winners …

"Tiger is a stand-out player who transcends all ages and genders," Buamaim added. "The fact that he will be making his seventh appearance in Dubai also shows how the tournament … has grown in stature and popularity."

"Rory is a familiar face to Dubai fans … For sure, he is an inspiration to young sportsmen, even from beyond his own sport."

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