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WOODS JOINS RORY AND STENS0N AT DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC

Tiger Woods has confirmed he will play his first regular-season European Tour event for three years at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic early next month.

Woods, who returned to action in December after almost 16 months out following back surgery, committed to the Farmers Insurance Open and the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour before announcing he would make his eighth appearance in the final tournament of the Desert Swing.

Tiger Woods returned to action in December after almost 16 months out

The 14-time major champion has added his name to a star-studded cast at The Emirates with Rory McIlroy, Open champion Henrik Stenson and Masters winner Danny Willett also teeing it up on February 2.

Woods has been a regular in the event since making his debut in the desert in 2001, winning in 2006 and 2008 while he is also a remarkable 92-under par for his 28 rounds over the famous Majlis course.

He was first introduced to the tournament by his long-time friend and mentor Mark O’Meara, and he is now relishing the chance to emulate Ernie Els as a three-time winner in Dubai.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing in Dubai and it’s fantastic to see how the city has grown phenomenally from when I first started playing there,” said Woods, who will make his first appearance of 2017 at Torrey Pines the week before the Dubai Desert Classic.

Woods won his second Dubai Desert Classic title in 2008

“It was great winning in Dubai in 2006 and 2008. When you win in Dubai, you know you’ve beaten an outstanding field. The support from the fans is also just wonderful.

“I still remember making that long putt on the 18th. That was nice. Also, I remember I shot three straight 64s, but only two of them were counted because one was in the pro-am. That was the year (2001) when I finished runner-up to Thomas Bjorn.

Woods is 92 under par for his 28 rounds at The Emirates

“It was Mark (O’Meara), who first told me about this tournament in 2000. ‘You would really enjoy it’ he said. I went to Dubai the following year and had a great time.”

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in Dubai, added: “We are naturally delighted and proud that Tiger Woods is joining us for the 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic and, like every one, I also look forward to seeing his trademark fist-pumps.

 

“Having one of the world’s greatest golfers 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 eighth time is a major boost for golf in the Middle East, especially Dubai.

“Tiger has always been a great ambassador for golf in Dubai, having spoken highly of the city and the tournament during his visits here. I am confident his presence will create a global buzz as always, giving a fresh impetus to tourism in the city. After all, he is Tiger Woods for a reason, one who transcends all races, ages and genders.”

Woods confirmed on Wednesday that he would return to Torrey Pines, where he is a seven-time champion at the Farmers Insurance Open as well as winning the US Open there in 2008 – the most recent of his 14 major titles.

“We’re thrilled our fans will have the opportunity to see Tiger in addition to what is already a very strong field for the Farmers Insurance Open,” Century Club CEO Peter Ripa told the PGA Tour website. “He has experienced tremendous success at Torrey Pines and in our tournament, and we couldn’t think of a better place for him to start the year.

“Tiger’s presence will add to a deep and talented field that includes many of the top stars in the game as well as some exciting up-and-coming players.”

Woods, who is second behind Jack Nicklaus in golf’s list of all-time major winners, had already announced his intention to play February’s Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in California.

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