x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Tiger Woods to swing by Dubai next year

The world No 1, twice a winner at the Dubai Desert Classic, is looking forward to competing again at the Majlis course.

Tiger Woods, seen here at the 2008 Dubai Desert Classic, a tournament which he won, has confirmed he will return to the emirate next year to try and win the event for a third time.
Tiger Woods, seen here at the 2008 Dubai Desert Classic, a tournament which he won, has confirmed he will return to the emirate next year to try and win the event for a third time.

DUBAI // Tiger Woods is looking forward to competing again at the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club after the announcement yesterday that he will return to the Emirates to compete in the 2011 Dubai Desert Classic. It will be a sixth appearance at the tournament for Woods, who was champion in 2006 and 2008. He missed the last two competitions.

"The level of competition [in Dubai] has always been extremely high," Woods said in a statement released by Desert Classic organisers, golf in DUBAI. "I know I'll have to play my best golf if I'm going to regain my title. It's a great venue, the [Majlis] course is always in immaculate condition and the weather reminds me of back home in Florida." Woods, who has never finished outside the top five in five Desert Classic appearances, produced one of the tournament's most memorable finishes on his way to victory two years ago.

After starting the day four shots behind leader Ernie Els, himself a three-time Classic winner, Woods played the last nine holes in six-under par to clinch a second Dubai title. Woods's six back-nine birdies included two magical putts on the last two holes. The more memorable one came at the 18th. With Els one shot up and three holes behind, Woods planted a left-to-right, downhill 20-footer into the middle of the cup to ramp up the pressure on the South African.

Els hit his approach into the water at the last and Woods triumphed. Woods missed the Classic in 2009, due to knee surgery, and this year because of a self-imposed break from golf following revelations about his personal life. Ross Bain, the Dubai-based Scottish golfer, is delighted to see the crowd-pulling world No 1 back in the UAE, and believes yesterday's announcement, six months before the February tournament, is a coup for everyone involved.

"It's great to have him back," said Bain, who played in this year's Classic. "Tiger's an asset to every golf tournament and the buzz is always better when he's playing. I'm sure the Majlis galleries will be looking forward to seeing him back." Dubai remains the only fixture in the Middle East's roster of European Tour tournaments that Woods has played in. He is yet to appear at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship or the Qatar Masters, the other two traditional legs of golf's Desert Swing.

January will see a fourth Gulf tournament, the inaugural Tournament of Champions in Bahrain, and it remains to be seen whether organisers will target an appearance from Woods. George O'Grady, the head of the European Tour, has acknowledged the importance of the Middle East for the Tour because of the good weather during the winter months, when playing in Europe is restricted. emegson@thenational.ae

2001 Tied second at 20-under-par 268, two shots behind winner Thomas Bjorn of Denmark. 2004 Tied fifth at 12-under-par 276, five shots behind winner Mark O'Meara of US. 2006 Wins with a 19-under-par 269, beating Ernie Els of South Africa in a play-off 2007 Tied third at 17-under-par 271, two shots behind winner Henrik Stenson of Sweden. 2008 Wins title with a 14-under-par 274, one shot ahead of Martin Kaymer of Germany.