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Westwood joins Woods in Desert Classic field

Lee Westwood came agonisingly close to winning the title last year. (SUPPLIED)

By Staff

World number one Lee Westwood will join Tiger Woods in the star-studded Omega Dubai Desert Classic field, aiming to further consolidate his reign at the top when the European Tour event gets under way at the Emirates Golf Club from February 7 to 13.

The mouth-watering clash between the planet’s two best golfers will certainly be one of the highpoints of the 22nd edition of the tournament, promoted and organised by ‘golf in Dubai’.
England’s Westwood, who overtook Woods at the top of the world rankings on October 31 last year, boasts 33 professional wins besides two top-two finishes at the majors since turning pro in 1993, but would relish his first win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, an event he considers one of his favourite stops on the tour.
The 37-year-old from Worksop flirted with success last year when he agonisingly came close to inscribing his name on the trophy, but missed two championship putts before losing to Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez in the third playoff hole after the pair topped the leaderboard at 11 under par, a shot clear of Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.
Westwood, who closed the most successful year of his career by winning South Africa’s Nedbank Golf Challenge by a staggering eight shots, is determined to keep the momentum going and get the job done this time around on a course he is quite familiar with.
“I know the (Majlis) course well, and it’s a good golf course. They set it up great,” said Westwood, adding: “I have always enjoyed playing in this tournament. It’s a big event which attracts the world’s leading players each year. And this year is no exception,” said Westwood, Europe’s first number one golfer since compatriot Nick Faldo achieved the feat in 1994.
“You have to be at your best if you aim to succeed. The plan is the same: Just go out and enjoy,” said Westwood, who also played a key role in guiding a fired-up European team to victory over America in the 2010 Ryder Cup. Westwood, along with fellow Englishman Luke Donald, beat Woods and Steve Stricker 6 and 5, a thumping win which improved Westwood’s record against Woods to 6-1 in the biennial competition.
With Tiger, who had a pretty good run at number one - 281 consecutive weeks - raring to bounce back from a winless season, the battle between the two promises to have all the ingredients of a thriller, the echoes of which will be felt all over the world.
“Lee has been a great ambassador of golf and a long-time friend of ‘golf in Dubai’. We look forward to welcoming him,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of ‘golf in Dubai’.
“With the world’s top two golfers along with Asia’s number one (Noh Seung-yul) joining an array of stars, including defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, we couldn’t have asked for more to showcase our event to a worldwide audience.
“Their collective presence will not only be a good advertisement for golf in Dubai, for the region as well,” he said, adding: “The fans are in for a real feast of golf.”