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Dubai toughened up for Tiger visit

The Dubai Desert Classic course has been toughened up to face the challenge of golf's top player Tiger Woods ahead of the March 1-4 event, the tournment director said Wednesday.

"We have tightened the course. There are some roughs which should make the difference. We have also repositioned some trees," Bob Wilkinson said.

The Emirates Golf Club, hosting the 12th Desert Classic, will now "test the player in all aspects," he told the Gulf News, while being careful not to underestimate the Woods challenge.

"As regards whether the course will suit Woods, he is an exceptionally talented player. For him, there aren't many golf courses in the world that are difficult. He is so very accurate," said Wilkinson.

It took Dubai two years of contacts to bring the 24-year-old US golf phenomenon to the Gulf desert emirate. The purse for the tournament has been increased to 1.5 million dollars, from 1.3 million dollars in 2000.

Argentina's Jose Coceres won last year's edition at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, but in March the tournament reverts to its home at the Emirates club after a two-year absence.

European number one Lee Westwood starts his 2001 season with a showdown in Dubai against Woods, also making his PGA European tour debut for the year. US veteran Mark O'Meara has joined the star-studded field.

Woods won a total of nine titles, three majors and a record 9.2 million dollars last year.


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