World No.1 Tiger Woods and his biggest rival Rory McIlory will compete in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic when the event celebrates its 25th anniversary next year, it was confirmed on Wednesday.
The two top ranking players will compete for the $2.5m prize at the Emirates Golf Club from January 27 to February 2, 2014. The will also be joined by past champions Mark O’Meara and Jose Maria Olazabal.
“I appreciate the support I have received from the people in Dubai and I always enjoy playing in their tournament. They have an outstanding field all the time, and the golf course (Majlis) is really in great shape,” said Woods, the winner of the 2006 and 2008 editions of the event.
Woods as competed in the Dubai event six times, making his debut appearance in 2001 and jointly holds the records, along with South Africa’s Ernie Els, as the only players to win multiple trophies at the Dubai event.
“Having won twice, I have really good memories of playing in Dubai and look forward to getting out there and being part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the tournament,” said Woods.
McIlroy, who was previously sponsored by Dubai’s Jumeirah hotel group, won his first professional trophy in 2009 at the event when he was 19, making him the seventh youngest winner in The European Tours history.
“It will be fun to be part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the tournament. It always feel nice to get back to a golf course where you have enjoyed success. Obviously I will be looking to win the event again,” he said, ahead of his eighth appearance at the tournament.
“I’ve got great memories of this course and of this tournament. It was nice to get my first professional win in Dubai. I had my parents there with me and it was a special moment that I will never forget. That win was a real stepping stone for the success that followed and my relationship with Dubai went from strength to strength.
“I will turn 25 a few months after the event, so to compete in next year’s 25th anniversary celebrations of the tournament will make it extra special,” he added.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, said: “We are delighted with early confirmation of four of our past winners, who will be joining us for the 25th anniversary of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
“Tiger is a standout player, who transcends all ages and genders. His presence, in particular, will further add to the profile of Dubai which was named one of the ultimate sporting cities for 2012 by Sports Business International.
“The fact that he will be making his seventh appearance in Dubai next year also shows how the tournament, which is the longest-running European Tour event in the region, has grown in stature and popularity since its inception in 1989.
“Rory is a familiar face to Dubai fans, having competed in this event a number of times, both as an amateur and professional. He is an exceptionally talented young sportsman who, I believe, is destined for greatness.
“For sure, he is an inspiration to young sportsmen even from beyond his own sport. They admire him a lot and love watching him. I am not a great believer in comparing sportsmen, but Rory’s youthful charm and charisma has certainly created its own marketable brand.