Dubai Desert Classic: Woods confirms participation

The appearance in Dubai will be Tiger Woods' first since he made his return after a gap of 16 months at the Hero World Challenge in Bahamas last month and it comes ahead of the Genesis Open to be held at the Riviera in the U.S. from February 16 to 19.

Tiger Woods will join World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, The Open winner Henrik Stenson and The Masters champion Danny Willett among other leading players in a sizzling starting line-up that underlines the event's growing reputation as the 'Major of the Middle East'.   -  AP

Ace American golfer Tiger Woods will join India's Anirban Lahiri, SSP Chawrasia and Jeev Milkha Singh in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic to be held here from February 2 to 5.

The appearance in Dubai will be Woods' first since he made his return after a gap of 16 months at the Hero World Challenge in Bahamas last month and it comes ahead of the Genesis Open to be held at the Riviera in the U.S. from February 16 to 19.

India's Lahiri is also due to open his European Tour season at the event.

Woods will be making his eighth appearance when the longest-running European Tour event in the region gets under way at the Emirates Golf Club.

Woods will join World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, The Open winner Henrik Stenson and The Masters champion Danny Willett among other leading players in a sizzling starting line-up that underlines the event's growing reputation as the 'Major of the Middle East'.

Woods is also slated to play the Genesis Open at the Riviera in the U.S. in February. The former World No. 1 made his comeback after a gap of 16 months at the Hero World Challenge last month and showed signs of his class, especially during the second round when he shot seven-under 65.

Overall, he was only tied 15th, but had the most birdies in the field, 24, two more than even the winner, Hideki Matsuyama.

Woods, who had been sidelined by back problems, enjoys fond memories of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, having won it twice and has an amazing 92-under par record for the 28 rounds he has played at the Majlis Course since making his debut in 2001.

"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.

"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," said Woods, who boasts of 14 Major victories and 79 PGA Tour wins, making him one of the most dominant players in the history of golf.

"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)," he added.

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice-chairman and CEO of golf in Dubai, commented: "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," he said.