Tiger Tops Big Easy in Dubai Playoff


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Tiger Woods has often been called unbeatable. So far this year, he literally is.
Woods made it two wins in a row when he bested Ernie Els in a playoff Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic, walking away with a par at the first sudden-death hole after he birdied the last two holes of his final round to match the South African for the lead.
Tiger Woods
The victory in Dubai was Tiger's second playoff win in as many weeks.
It was the second straight playoff win for Woods, who escaped with a victory at the PGA Tour's Buick Invitational last week -- his first start of 2006 after a six-week layoff.
'I couldn't ask for anything more,' said Woods. 'Two playoffs -- very stressful, but still, I was somehow able to come out on top.'
Woods and Els both finished at 19-under-par 269 for the tournament -- Woods after a 3-under 69 and Els following a 5-under 67 at Emirates Golf Club.
Els held the clubhouse lead for a spell before Woods went birdie-birdie on 17 and 18. Back at the par-5 18th for the playoff, Els found the trees on his tee shot and the water on his second.
Following a drop and his fourth shot, Els missed a par putt and opted not to finish the hole. Woods made par after finding the back of the green in two.
Els had played the 18th hole at minus-5 through four rounds. Which made his finish that much more disappointing.
'I was 5 under on that hole for the week with an eagle and three birdies. But there you go,' said Els, who won the last of his three Dubai titles last year. 'This was strongest field in the world this year...and to almost win is fine.'
Woods is already a third of the way to his 2005 total of six victories, which included wins at the Masters and British Open and helped Woods re-gain his No. 1 world ranking.
'It's a good start,' he said.
Sunday wasn't the first time Woods and Els met in a playoff.
The duo were even through three extra holes at the 2003 Presidents Cup before United States captain Jack Nicklaus and International team captain Gary Player agreed on a controversial draw.
On this day, Els entered the final round two shots behind overnight leaders Woods and Anders Hansen. He used three birdies on a spotless front nine to take the lead around the turn, and his advantage was two shots after another birdie at the 10th moved him to 18 under.
Ernie Els
Ernie Els found the water in the playoff which ultimately led to his loss in the extra session.
However, Els wouldn't find another birdie until his two-putt four at 18.
Meanwhile, Woods collected three birdies on his final six holes to reach Els, including getting up-and-down from the back fringe at 18 for the birdie and a tie.
'Today was a day that I'm very proud of,' Woods admitted. 'I hung in there just like I did last week. It's a pretty good feeling when you're able to do that and turn things around like that.'
Woods now has 25 victories in events that count towards the European Tour schedule. He is tied for sixth all-time on that list with Neil Coles -- halfway to Seve Ballesteros' 50 titles.
Richard Green bogeyed the 18th hole to finish alone in third place, one stroke back at 18-under-par 270. Green had a stretch of four birdies in five holes to claim a brief lead before his bogey at 18 put him at 4-under 68 in his final round.
'These guys are just so good,' Green said of Woods and Els. 'I couldn't quite do enough. It would have been nice to knock off a couple of number ones.'
After sharing the overnight lead with Woods, Anders Hansen shot a 1-under 71 to finish tied for fourth place at minus-17. He was joined there by Miguel Angel Jimenez, who shot a 69.
World No. 3 Retief Goosen began the day one stroke back and played in the final threesome with Woods and Hansen. But he ended alone in sixth place at 16-under after managing just a 71 in the final round.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Dubai Desert Classic
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  • Full Coverage - Dubai Desert Classic