HOT OFF THE PRESS – World number one Tiger Woods has confirmed that he will be returning to Dubai to compete in the 2011 Omega Dubai Desert Classic to be held at the Emirates Golf Club, the promoters and organisers of the event have announced.
Arguably the most remarkable athlete of the modern era, Woods may still be working on his 2010 schedule, but he has already committed to play early next year in Dubai, underscoring his fondness for the city he calls “an extremely hospitable place where the people and the tournament organisers treat the players so well.”
Woods has left an indelible imprint in Dubai since making his first visit to Dubai in 2001, having won the event twice (2006 and 2008) and finishing no worse than a tied fifth place during his previous five appearances in the tournament.
One of the world's most recognisable figures, Woods was due to defend his title in 2009, but reconstructive surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee forced him to miss the rest of the season after going 91 holes on a wounded knee to win the 2008 US Open.
With a whopping 95 career wins, including 14 majors, under his belt since turning professional in 1996, Woods returned to competition at the 2010 Masters on April 8, 2010, after a break lasting 144 days. Top-four finishes in the first two majors of the year amply suggests it’s just a question of time before the 35-year-old superstar returns to the winning ways.
Tiger Woods, the winner of the 2008 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, with Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum during the presentation at the Emirates Golf Club
He is looking forward to getting in Dubai and playing in this part of the world, in what he regards as "a fantastic event."
“The level of competition has always been extremely high; so 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,” said Woods who has also been amazed by the progress of Dubai.
"What they had done is phenomenal. I haven't seen anything like this and I don't think anyone anywhere around the world has seen this kind of growth. Golf is just one component of it. Since the time I have been coming over here, the skyline keeps changing, keeps evolving and the people keep coming here and thoroughly enjoy it,” he said.
"From the time I first came to play here in 2001, I wanted to be a part of this amazing vision," said Woods, well known for demonstrating his uncanny ability to manufacture great scores when it mattered most and he delivered a shining example of precocious talent at the 2008 Dubai Desert Classic.
Starting his final round, four strokes behind Ernie Els, Woods played his last nine holes in six under par to finish with a 66 for a winning total of 14-under-par 274, a dramatic victory which elicited a familiar litany of reasons to be amazed and delivered a vivid reminder of what makes him special.
'golf in DUBAI' were equally delighted to welcome Woods back in Dubai. "We are naturally delighted and proud that Tiger Woods has agreed to join us for the 2011 Omega Dubai Desert Classic,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Vice-Chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAI.
“Having the world’s greatest golfer play in your event is something many tournament organisers dream of; so for us to be able to welcome him to the Majlis Course for the sixth time in 10 years is a major boost for golf in the Middle East, especially Dubai.
“With Tiger, who transcends all races, ages and gender, in the field, we are pretty confident that the 2011 Omega Dubai Desert Classic will create a buzz on the global stage, giving a fresh impetus to tourism in the city. After all, he's Tiger Woods for a reason,” he said.
“We are also looking forward to revealing other major names in the near future in line with the tournament’s tradition of showcasing the best possible field.”
'golf in DUBAi' is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the sponsor while Gulf News, wasl, CNN, Dubai Duty Free and Carpetland are co-sponsors in its drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.
TIGER WOODS’ RECORD AT OMEGA DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC AT A GLANCE:
2001 – Tied second at 20-under-par 268, two shots behind winner Thomas Bjorn Denmark
2004 – Tied fifth at 12-under-par 276, five shots behind winner Mark O’Meara of US
2006 – Wins the title with a score of 19-under-par 269, beating Ernie Els of South Africa in a playoff
2007 – Tied third at 17-under-par 271, two shots behind winner Henrik Stenson of Sweden
2008 – Wins the title with a score of 14-under-par 274, one shot ahead of Martin Kaymer of Germany