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Mon 4 Feb 2008 02:35 AM

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Last hole drama as Tiger wins Dubai Desert Classic

Woods sinks 25ft birdie putt to edge home ahead of Els and win fifth straight tournament.

Tiger Woods sunk a 25-foot birdie putt on the last to edge home ahead of Ernie Els in the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday and win his fifth straight tournament.

It was a stunning performance from the world No.1 who had looked out of sorts and out of the running until producing a magnificent six-under par 31 on the back nine to overtake a pack of players.

And it was heartbreak for Els who started the day with a one-stroke lead and was four ahead of Woods in what was the big South African's first tournament of the year after a winter break back home.

His lead had been challenged first by Swedish playing partner and defending champion Henrik Stenson, who started the day in second one stroke behind him, and then by a tremendous round of 65 from young compatriot Louis Oosthuizen but two birdies at 13 and 14 saw him move back ahead in pole position to win.

Playing four groups ahead of him, though, Woods produced a grandstand finish to equal the best final round comeback win in the tournament's history.

He hit a five-wood through the par-five 18th green in two and showed a flash of temper as his chip back from a bad lie at the edge of the green came up short.

But he punched the air in delight shortly after as he sunk the ensuing 25-footer for birdie to edge one stroke clear of the South African at 14 under 274 after a closing 65.

Els had three holes left to play to draw level with a birdie and force a play-off.

He missed makeable birdie putts on 16 and 17 and then watched in horror as his gambled second to the 18th plunged into the water leaving him to limp off with a bogey six and a share of third place with Oosthuizen.

Rising German star Martin Kaymer had a birdie-birdie-eagle finish for a round of 66 to finish runner-up one stroke behind Woods at 13 under.

"I could have put that chip right back in the water at 18. You have to make your mistakes short and if I leave it short just hit it up and try an make par and probably not going to win the tournament," Woods said of the drama at the last hole.

"Then I just got to the green and the put went in. It's the ideal start to the year going two for two," he said referring to his eight-stroke win last Sunday in California's Buick Invitational, his first tournament of the year after a 10-week winter break.

Woods has now won seven of the last eight strokeplay tournaments he has taken part in dating back to the tail-end of last year and is unbeaten this year as he hones his game for the Masters at Augusta in early April.

Els was left rueing another drubbing from Woods who beat him here two years ago in a play-off.

"The second shot at 18, it was right where I wanted it, but I could see a gust got it in the air and it didn't have much of a chance in the end. But it was really right at it," he said.

The 23-year-old Kaymer's second place finish confirmed him as a star of the future following his debut tour win at Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

He is now handily placed to grab a place in the European Ryder Cup team although he says it is too early to start thinking about that.

"I'm not looking that far down the line," he said. "I heard from my manager that I can play at Augusta (Masters) now and that's unbelievable too."

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