Woods finds a way to win in Dubai
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2008 Dubai Desert Classic | Round Four | 03 Feb 2008
Like a great racehorse that knows where the finish line is, Tiger Woods found a way to be in front when all 72 holes were over, his final round of 65 leaving him one clear of a young man who might one day himself challenge for the position as number one golfer. Recent Abu Dhabi winner, Martin Kaymer, birdied the 16th and 17th holes then eagled the last to move ahead of a faltering Ernie Els to claim second.
On any one of a number of occasions over the closing 36 holes of the Dubai Classic, it appeared that Tiger Woods had all but exhausted his chances of winning this event for the second occasion.
Woods bookended the tournament with rounds of 65 but in between there was enough to keep his fellow competitors convinced this was an opportunity to beat him. So indifferent had been his form in the middle stages of the tournament that he had started the final day four shots behind Els.
Three consecutive birdies to start round four had Woods knocking on the door of the overnight leader but by the turn Woods had dropped two shots and was back at eight under and seemingly out of contention.
While Els maintained his lead through the early stages, the South African Louis Oosthuisen was beginning to emerge as an unlikely challenger. The talented yet injury plagued 25-year-old moved to eight under through 14 holes of his round and when he birdied the 14th he was at 13 under and led by one over one of his golfing idols, Els.
Oosthuisen bogeyed the 15th and his chance of victory was all but gone but as he was doing that the eventual winner Woods was in the middle of a run that would take him to within striking distance. Four birdies in the first five holes of his back nine including a chip in at the 12th had Woods back at 12 under and within one.
Knowing that he needed one or two more to have a chance of victory Woods smashed his tee shot flag high at the reachable par four 17th. He was just off the green and then chipped to 10 feet and holed to move back to the lead for the first time since Saturday morning.
At the last, Woods produced a brilliant tee shot but hit his five wood second too well and found the edge of the back bunker. From an awkward lie he hit a very average pitch to 35 feet but it was almost fate that he would hole it and he did. Woods was then at 14 under and he had a buffer of one over Els and Oosthuisen.
Els had hit a magnificent approach at the 14th to two feet to move within one but he remained there until he reached the 18th tee. A great drive convinced him to go for it at the last but he found the water and his chance was gone.
A few moments earlier the 23-year-old German Martin Kaymer had birdied the 16th and 17th and eagled the last to move to 13 under and when Els dropped a shot, Kaymer had finished second alone and had moved to third position on the 2008 European Tour Order of Merit.
Els and Oosthuisen finished in a share of third.
The leading Australian was Scott Hend who finished 14th and earned €24,000 while Brendan Jones was 25th, Peter O’Malley 30th and Marcus Fraser 33rd. Richard Green made the cut but was forced to withdraw from Saturday’s play with illness.
Woods’ next outing is likely to be the Accenture Match Play Championship in two weeks time while for the European Tour they will be in New Delhi for the Emaar MGF Indian Masters where Ernie Els gets another chance at victory.