Tiger Woods has confirmed he will compete in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic where he will be making his eighth appearance when the longest-running European Tour event in the region gets under way at Emirates Golf Club from February 2 to 5, 2017.
Arguably the most remarkable athlete of the modern era, Woods will join world number two Rory McIlroy, The Open winner Henrik Stenson and The Masters champion Danny Willett among other leading players in a sizzling starting line-up that underlines the event's growing reputation as the 'Major of the Middle East.'
The former world number one, who had been sidelined by back problems for 15 months, enjoys fond memories of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, having won it twice and is an amazing 92-under par for the 28 rounds he has played at the Majlis course since making his debut in 2001.
"I've always enjoyed playing in Dubai and it's fantastic to see how the city has grown phenomenally from when I first started playing there," said Woods, whose return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge saw him make the most birdies for the week at 24 in a sign that showed glimpses of his return to form.
"It was great winning in Dubai in 2006 and 2008. When you win in Dubai, you know you've beaten an outstanding field. The support from the fans is also just wonderful," said Woods, who boasts 14 Major victories and 79 PGA Tour wins, making him one of the most dominant players in the history of golf.
"I still remember making that long putt on the 18th. That was nice. Also, I remember I shot three straight 64s, but only two of them were counted because one was in the pro am. That was the year (2001) when I finished runner-up to Thomas (Bjorn)," he added.
"It was Mark (O'Meara), who first told me about this tournament in 2000. 'You would really enjoy it' he said. I went to Dubai the following year and had a great time," said Woods, who needs one more win to equal great Ernie Els' long-standing record of three victories at Emirates Golf Club.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, commented: "We are naturally delighted and proud that Tiger Woods is joining us for the 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic and, like every one, I also look forward to seeing his trademark fist-pumps.
"Having one of the world's greatest golfers play in your event is something many tournament organisers dream of; so for us to be able to welcome him to the Majlis Course for the eighth time is a major boost for golf in the Middle East, especially Dubai.
"Tiger has always been a great ambassador for golf in Dubai, having spoken highly of the city and the tournament during his visits here. I am confident his presence will create a global buzz as always, giving a fresh impetus to tourism in the city. After all, he is Tiger Woods for a reason, one who transcends all races, ages and genders," he said.
"I wish him the very best and hope he has a wonderful stay in Dubai."
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, JA Resorts & Hotels, Mercedes-Benz and wasl, while Dubai Duty Free, Neocasa Interiors and Motivate Publishing are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.