World Numbers One and Two Tiger Woods and Rory McIlory will headline a world class field when the Omega Dubai Desert Classic celebrates its 25th anniversary at Emirates Golf Club in 2014.
The pair will join an illustrious list of past champions which includes Mark O’Meara and José María Olazábal as they vie for a US$2.5million purse in the longest-running European Tour event in Asia and the MENA region.
The early confirmation of four iconic names, who between them have won 20 Major Championships, will ensure an electric atmosphere befitting the silver jubilee celebrations of the event, promoted and organized by golf in DUBAi.
The awesome foursome will also feature in the Champions Challenge, an 18-hole stroke-play showpiece in which former winners of the event contest a US$600,000 prize fund while reliving their memorable moments on the Majlis course.
“I appreciate the support I have received from the people in Dubai and I always enjoy playing in their tournament,” said Woods, who won the 2006 and 2008 Classics. “They have an outstanding field all the time, and the golf course (Majlis) is really in great shape.”
Woods is no stranger to Dubai having competed six times since making his first appearance in 2001. He and South Africa’s Ernie Els are the only multiple winners of the Middle East’s flagship tournament.
“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, the 14-time Major winner, who also boasts 78 wins on the US PGA Tour.
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic holds special significance for McIlroy who recorded his first professional victory when he won in 2009 at aged 19.
Since then, McIlory has won two Majors – the 2011 US Open Championship and the 2012 US PGA Championship – and reached World Number One.
“It will be fun to be part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the tournament,” said the Northern Irishman. “It always feels nice to get back to a golf course where you have enjoyed success. Obviously I will be looking to win the event again.
“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.
“To think the tournament is older than I am is testimony to its 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.”
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, said: “We are delighted with the 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.”