PGA European - Dubai Desert Classic Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Thursday, January 29th through Sunday, February 1st
SITE: Emirates Golf Club (Majlis course), Dubai, United Arab Emirates
COURSE ARCHITECT: Karl Litten (1988)
PAR: 72
YARDAGE: 7,301
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 458 Yds10 - Par 5 549 Yds
2 - Par 4 351 Yds11 - Par 3 169 Yds
3 - Par 5 568 Yds12 - Par 4 467 Yds
4 - Par 3 188 Yds13 - Par 5 550 Yds
5 - Par 4 436 Yds14 - Par 4 434 Yds
6 - Par 4 485 Yds15 - Par 3 190 Yds
7 - Par 3 186 Yds16 - Par 4 425 Yds
8 - Par 4 459 Yds17 - Par 4 359 Yds
9 - Par 4 463 Yds18 - Par 5 564 Yds
--------------------------
35 3,594 Yds37 3,707 Yds
 
Annual:  20th
Television:  Golf Channel - Thursday/Sunday - 8:30 a.m.-12:30 pm (et) - taped,
Defending Champion:  Tiger Woods (Not Defending)
Runner-Up:  Martin Kaymer
Tournament Record:  266 (Thomas Bjorn, 2001)
54-Hole Record:  196 (Tiger Woods, 2001)
36-Hole Record:  128 (Tiger Woods, 2001)
Course Record:  61 (Ernie Els, 1994)
Total Purse:  $2,500,000
Share:  1st Place - $425,681; 2nd Place - $283,785; 3rd Place - $159,936
 
2008 Finish
PlayerScorePlayerScore
Tiger Woods274Ricardo Gonzalez280
Martin Kaymer275Soren Hansen280
Ernie Els276Peter Hedblom280
Louis Oosthuizen276Henrik Stenson280
Graeme McDowell278Four players at281
 
Past Dubai Desert Classic Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2008Tiger Woods (274) -- Martin Kaymer
2007Henrik Stenson (269) -- Ernie Els
2006*Tiger Woods (269) -- Ernie Els
2005Ernie Els (269) -- Miguel Angel Jimenez, Stephen Dodd
2004Mark O'Meara (271) -- Paul McGinley
2003Robert-Jan Derksen (271) -- Ernie Els
2002Ernie Els (272) -- Niclas Fasth
2001Thomas Bjorn (266) -- Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington
2000Jose Coceres (274) -- Patrik Sjoland, Paul McGinley
1999David Howell (275) -- Lee Westwood
1998Jose Maria Olazabal (269) -- Stephen Allan
1997*Richard Green (272) -- Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam
1996Colin Montgomerie (270) -- Miguel Angel Jimenez
1995Fred Couples (268) -- Colin Montgomerie
1994Ernie Els (268) -- Greg Norman
1993Wayne Westner (274) -- Retief Goosen
1992*Seve Ballesteros (272) -- Ronan Rafferty
1991Not Held
1990Eamonn Darcy (276) -- David Feherty
1989*Mark James (277) -- Peter O'Malley

* - Won in Playoff

Note:Formerly called Karl Litten Classic (1989), Emirates Airline Classic
(1990).

Top Contenders in the Field
Player200020012002200320042005200620072008
Martin Kaymer------------------------2nd
Ernie Els------Won2ndT-3Won2nd2ndT-3
Louis Oosthuizen------------T-27T-51mcmcT-3
Graeme McDowell---------mcmc------T-445th
Henrik Stenson---mcmcT-71T-45T-22T-7WonT-6
Peter Hedblom---------mcmcT-16mcT-54T-6
Ricardo GonzalezT-56T-21T-20---mcmcT-28mcT-6
Soren HansenT-37T-28T-32T-28T-56T-40T-41mcT-6
Niclas Fasthmcmc2nd------T-22T-11T-3T-10
Ross Fisher---------------------5thT-10
Lee WestwoodT-4T-17---T-38T-12T-6T-28T-25T-10
Thomas LevetT-37T-66mc---mc---------T-10
Robert Karlsson---mcT-32T-47T-56T-6T-28T-10T-19
Sergio Garcia---------------------mcT-19
Paul Broadhurstwd---T-12T-47T-30T-72T-22T-25T-25
Mark O'MearaT-46mcmcT-52WonmcT-63mcT-39
Thomas BjornT-13WonT-20T-6mcT-22T-47T-10T-44
David HowellT-64T-43T-64mcT-3T-9T-28mcT-44
Miguel A. JimenezT-46------T-38mcT-2T-4T-10T-54
Robert-Jan Derksen------mcWonmcT-63T-47T-20T-54
Colin MontgomerieT-46T-21mc---T-124thmcT-10T-65
Stephen Dodd------T-64mcmcT-2T-6962nd67th
Peter Hanson------mc---T-52T-63T-726thmc
Darren ClarkeT-17T-58T-7T-11mc---T-7T-20mc
Richard GreenmcT-12T-27T-52T-27T-223rdT-34mc
Nick Dougherty------T-46T-20mcT-6T-9T-34mc
Alvaro Quiros---------------------T-59mc
Paul Casey------------T-12---T-16T-20---
Justin RosemcT-77T-56------------------
Jose CoceresWon------------------------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Sergio Garcia
Darkhorse - Louis Oosthuizen
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Rory McIlroy) - Finished tied for 46th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Francesco Molinari) - Finished tied for 50th
 
NOTES:
The European Tour wraps up its "Gulf Swing" this week with the last of three consecutive tournaments in the Middle East, the Dubai Desert Classic. Ten of the top 30 players in the world will be competing this week, led by world No. 2 Sergio Garcia and world No. 7 and 2007 champion Henrik Stenson. Paul Casey won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship two weeks ago and Alvaro Quiros captured the Commercialbank Qatar Masters last week. Both players are in the field this week. World No. 1 Tiger Woods, the 2006 and 2008 champion, is not defending his title as he is still recovering from knee surgery. The 20th anniversary of this event features 11 of the 16 past winners.

Last year, Woods fired a seven-under 65 in the final round to win the tournament for the second time in three years, posting six birdies on the back nine to overcome a four-stroke deficit. Woods beat Germany's Martin Kaymer by just one stroke at 14-under 274. Woods passed Colin Montgomerie for solo third place on the European Tour's all-time wins list with No. 32. Kaymer went birdie-birdie-eagle on his last three holes to post a six-under 66 and finish at 13-under 275 -- a sparkling effort, but not enough. Woods had earlier birdied the 17th and 18th holes to take the clubhouse lead. Ernie Els went to the 18th needing a birdie to tie Woods for the lead. Instead, he hit into the water and made bogey. It was the seventh consecutive year that Els, a three- time Dubai champion, finished in the top three.

After opening with three birdies in his first four holes in the final round to pull within a shot of the lead, Woods stumbled to bogeys at the seventh and ninth holes to trail by four shots around the turn. But he erased that deficit by the 14th, where his fourth birdie in five holes tied him for the lead. Woods birdied the 17th to move one ahead, then found some trouble at the par- five 18th. He knocked a five-iron into the thick rough surrounding a bunker behind the green. Unable to see the ball, and thinking it had landed in the sand, Woods strode up the 18th fairway preparing to hit a bunker shot. Instead, he discovered he had a delicate chip shot onto a sloping green. The only safe mistake he could make, Woods figured, was leaving the ball short, which he did. It ended up 25 feet from the hole, setting up a dramatic finish. Woods rolled in the birdie putt, making it dead-center for the victory.

In 2007, Henrik Stenson won the the event by one shot over Els and by two over Woods. Stenson fired rounds of 68-64-69-68 to finish at 19-under-par 269. Stenson recorded four birdies on the back nine in the final round to surge in front. He ended in style with a seven-foot birdie on the 18th to secure the victory.

In 2006, Woods bested Els in a playoff. He walked away with a par at the first sudden-death hole after he birdied the last two holes of his final round to match Els for the lead. Woods and Els both finished at 19-under-par 269 for the tournament -- Woods after a three-under 69 and Els following a five-under 67 in the final round at Emirates Golf Club. Els held the clubhouse lead for a spell before Woods went birdie-birdie on 17 and 18. Back at the par-five 18th for the playoff, Els found the trees on his tee shot and the water on his second. Following a drop and his fourth shot, Els missed a par putt and opted not to finish the hole. Woods made par after finding the back of the green in two. The 2006 playoff was only the fourth in tournament history and first since Richard Green beat Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam in 1997.

In 2005, Els eagled the 72nd hole to rally from a shot behind to defeat Stephen Dodd and Miguel Angel Jimenez for the title. With the eagle, Els polished off a final-round, four-under 68 to finish the tournament at 19- under-par 269. Els became the first three-time winner in Dubai (he also titled there in 1994 and 2002).

In 11 appearances at this event, Els has rung up a cumulative score of 169- under par through 44 rounds, with a scoring average of 68.16. He has never finished worse than eighth and has yet to record an over-par score at the Emirates course -- 40 of them being under par, with 32 in the 60s. It comes as no surprise that Els is the all-time money leader at this event with 1,557,507 euros.

When Mark O'Meara won in 2004, he ended a victory drought that spanned six years. O'Meara, the first American to win the event since Fred Couples in 1995, had not won since capturing the 1998 Cisco World Match Play Championship. With the win, O'Meara became the oldest champion in tournament history at 47 years old.

There have been four wire-to-wire winners at the event, the last coming in 2000 when Jose Coceres captured the title. Coceres has recorded two aces in event competition (1992 and 1996). Miguel Angel Jimenez posted the only hole- in-one last year, as he aced the seventh hole during round one.

This is the ninth straight year and 18th overall that Emirates Golf Club is hosting the tournament. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club played host to the event in 1999-2000.

The European Tour international schedule moves to Malaysia in two weeks for the Maybank Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur, where Arjun Atwal captured the 2008 title.

01/27 14:28:02 ET

As of January 27, 2009, at 02:28 PM ET
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