The growing profile of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic will scale new heights when, for the first time, the world’s number one, two and three will line up for honours at the European Tour event that gets under way at the Emirates Golf Club from February 7 to 13.
Never before in the history of golf in the Middle East, the top three golfers in the world rankings have entered a tournament, but a new chapter will be written when world number one Lee Westwood will join the new number two Martin Kaymer, who relegated Tiger Woods to third place after his thumping eight-shot win at Abu Dhabi.
Whether the rankings stay the same or change will depend on how these three superstars fare in the run-up to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, but whatever the outcome, the fans can expect a feast of golf from a top-class field which also includes defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez and Asia number one Seung Yul Noh among other supremely-gifted players.
Europeans now occupy three of the top-five and six of the top-10 positions in the official world rankings, but Woods’ return to Dubai will generate special interest as he will aiming for a third win to match the feat of South Africa’s Ernie Els.
“I always enjoy going to Dubai and I like playing in the tournament. There’s an outstanding field all the time and it’s a really good golf course that’s in great shape,” said Woods who is a whopping 82-under-par for the 20 rounds he has played at the Majlis course.
“Winning takes care of a lot of things, including being No. 1 in the world, and I haven’t done that lately. I am encouraged about the future and I’m looking forward to this year,” said Woods, adding: “My goal every year is to get better, and that’s what I want to do in 2011,” added Woods, who fell to third for the first time since Vijay Singh and Ernie Els occupied the top two spots in 2004.
How the script for Woods will unfold, time will tell, but Kaymer is enjoying his moment in the sun. “It’s nice to overtake somebody who is probably the best player in the world, perhaps the best ever lived,” he said after winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“It makes me proud, but for me, Lee Westwood is the best player in the world. It’s all about consistency and he is as consistent as you can imagine. That’s why he is the number one in the world.”
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice-chairman and CEO of golf in Dubai, said: “If we have managed to assemble such a great field, it’s down to the players who value the history of the tournament. Many of the world’s great names have added their names to the roll of honours.
“Certainly the presence the world’s top three players will provide a fitting finale to the ‘Gulf Swing.’ Lee, Martin and Tiger may have played in Dubai before, but things are different now: they are the top three in the world. The changing of the guard in world golf clearly shows the game is entering a new competitive era, which is great for golf.
“We look forward to welcoming all players and hope the tournament will offer spectators, both locally and on TV, an experience to savour the magic of golf.”
'Golf in Dubai' is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Emirates Airline, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Jumeirah, Mercedes-Benz and wasl while Dubai Duty Free, Carpetland and Motivate are the Patrons in golf in Dubai’s drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.
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