Date: February 04, 2008

Woods storms home in Dubai

A brilliant back nine from Tiger Woods helped seal his seventh victory in eight outings as Ernie Els let a fourth Dubai Desert Classic title slip from his grasp. The world No.1 trailed the South African by four shots when he bogeyed the ninth with Els, a three-time winner in Dubai, four groups behind. But a remarkable turnaround saw Woods card six birdies coming home, which included a crucial 25-foot putt at the last, as he covered the back nine in just 31 to complete a round of 65 and set the mark at 14-under. Els was one stroke behind but had three holes in which to find at least one birdie to force a play-off but his ambition proved to be his downfall as he dumped his approach to the par-five 18th in the water as he attempted to reach the green in two. That cost him any chance of victory and a bogey six meant he signed for a one-under 71, which dropped him back into a share of third place with compatriot Louis Oosthuizen on 12 under. Abu Dhabi champion from three weeks ago Martin Kaymer finished runner-up a shot adrift of Woods after an impressive final-round 66. Scott Hend was the leading Australian in a tie for 14th at six-under after a closing 71, while Brendan Jones finished at four-under, Peter O&aposMalley at three-under and Marcus Fraser at two-under. After winning the Buick Invitational by eight strokes last week, Woods collected his second victory in Dubai and his 82nd career triumph and has been pleased with his early form in 2008. “It&aposs an ideal start to the year. To go two for two is a pretty good start,” Woods said. “I felt good today with my putting stroke. Yesterday it was a touch off but today I feel like I rolled the ball well and all week I&aposve had good pace. “When you have good pace you can read the greens and I was reading them pretty good all week.” Woods topped the leaderboard for the first two days but slipped four shots adrift of overnight leader Els after a frustrating third-round 73. He began the final day with three birdies in his first four holes but reached the turn just one under for his round after bogeys at six and nine, three-putting the latter. But after clawing back a shot at the 10th there followed three successive birdies – sparked by a chip-in at the par-four 12th – to lift the American to 12 under. Woods picked up another stroke at the 17th before that crucial birdie at the last when he sank a tough 25-foot downhill putt – having bogeyed the hole yesterday by hitting his second into the water. The world number one was then forced to watch as Els headed down the last with a birdie required to force a play-off but the South African&aposs 240-yard three-wood approach caught the wind and came up short in the water. Woods admitted he had some sympathy for Els after he had a similar – although not as catastrophic – experience the previous day. “People don&apost realise how much the wind blows on the grandstand over the 18th. If you just up shoot it a touch the wind will just smoke it and that&aposs what happened to me yesterday,” Woods added. “I got off to as good as start as you possibly could, I was three under through four but dropped shots at six and nine and I went from being in the mix to being out of the mix. “I told my caddie [Steve Williams] if we shoot 30 on the back nine maybe we will be in a play-off. “I shot 31 and it happened to be good enough. I like winning by seven or eight it&aposs less stressful. “Ernie had a pretty tough shot at the last; I&aposve been there before I put the ball in the water on the last hole with a chance to win the tournament.” Els played a solid front nine and two birdies meant he reached the turn at 13 under for the tournament. However, by then Woods&apos charge was well under way and missed par putts from inside five feet at 11 and 12 cost the South African dearly. Back-to-back birdies followed to set-up a thrilling climax but Els could not find the one birdie he needed over the closing three holes to force a play-off and, to add insult to injury, his missed eight-foot par putt at the cost him a share of second place. “It was a little disappointing. I played really solid on the front nine but it could have been four or five under,” said Els, who has now finished inside the top three in each of his last seven visits to Dubai. Dubai Desert Classic, Round 4 -14 Tiger Woods 65 71 73 65 -13 Martin Kaymer 67 73 69 66 -12 Ernie Els 68 72 65 71, Oosthuizen, Louis 73 69 69 65 -10 Graeme McDowell 67 72 69 70 -8 Ricardo Gonzalez 72 71 72 65, Soren Hansen 68 72 70 70, Peter Hedblom 69 70 70 71, Henrik Stenson 68 70 68 74 -7 Niclas Fasth 72 71 70 68, Ross Fisher 69 70 71 71, Thomas Levet 67 71 72 71, Lee Westwood 69 71 68 73 -6 Bradley Dredge 73 72 68 69, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet 72 68 72 70, Scott Hend (Australia) 67 72 72 71, Paul McGinley 71 72 69 70, Gary Murphy 67 72 71 72 -5 Sergio Garcia 68 71 70 74, Thongchai Jaidee 69 73 70 71, Robert Karlsson 70 70 73 70 Also: -4 Brendan Jones (Australia) 71 71 74 68 -3 Peter O&aposMalley (Australia) 68 73 70 74 -2 Marcus Fraser (Australia) 69 75 70 72 -1 Richard Green (Australia) 73 70 -4 Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 76 72