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Friday, 19 March 2010
Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods, the respective Number Ones in Europe and the World, will line up in a field of outstanding quality for the Dubai Desert Classic, which returns to the Emirates Golf Club this year after two years at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.

The line-up in the desert contains five major champions in Seve Ballesteros, Paul Lawrie, Mark O'Meara, Woods and Ian Woosnam while seven of the top ten in last year's Volvo Order of Merit have also entered.

Westwood, winner of five Volvo Order of Merit titles in 2000 on his way to wresting the crown from Colin Montgomerie's grasp after seven years, makes his seasonal debut on The European Tour International Schedule.

Darren Clarke, who ran Westwood close last season, is also back in action, having played in the Mercedes-Benz South African Open before winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am the following week.

Other players in the field from last season's top ten are Montgomerie, Thomas Björn, Padraig Harrington, Phillip Price and Gary Orr. Sweden's Pierre Fulke, the current Volvo Order of Merit leader after a blistering start to the new season in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, also plays.

Woods, yet to win on the US PGA Tour in 2001, will be seeking back-to-back successes on The European Tour International Schedule. The man who captured three major championships in devastating style in 2000, won the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand last November, and makes his first visit to Dubai this week.

O'Meara, who played at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club in 1999 and 2000, returns for a third visit to the tournament which was staged at the wonderful Emirates course for the first nine years of its existence.

The Emirates has witnessed numerous moments of great theatre and emotional drama. Mark James, Eamonn Darcy, Ballesteros and Wayne Westner had all won Dubai Desert Classics when Ernie Els decided to produce one of golf’s great rounds, shooting a remarkable course record 61, 11 under par, in the second round of the 1994 edition.

If there was general disbelief that the Emirates might yield such a low score, the player himself was even more dumbfounded. Els recalled: "Scores like 61 don't come round very often. You get streaks and the putts that day kept going in."

The big South African, who would win the first of his two US Open titles later that year, shot 29 for his homeward nine (the Emirates front nine, as Els started at the tenth), having gone out in 32.

Sandy Lyle, his playing partner, simply shook his head and said: "I have never seen anyone putt that well in my life."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1FORSBRAND, AndersSWE18-10
T1JOHNSTONE, TonyZIM18-10
3ROCCA, CostantinoITA18-2
4BJÖRN, ThomasDEN18-22
T5WOODS, TigerUSA18-20
T5HARRINGTON, PadraigIRL18-20
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