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Tiger pulls out of Dubai Desert Classic

Tiger Woods withdrew Sunday from next week's Dubai Desert Classic with war looming in nearby Iraq.

In a brief statement from the organizers, Woods said he had decided not to travel to the tournament, which is played on the Majlis Course just a few miles (kilometers) from the Persian Gulf.

"Although I originally intended to play this week, I have reluctantly decided to postpone my appearance until the 15th event is staged next season," organizers quoted Woods as saying.

"The organizers of the event have been extremely cooperative and supportive and I appreciate their understanding," he added. "They offered tremendous support and security for this proposed trip, however for the foreseeable future I felt it would be most prudent to avoid international travel."

With the world's No. 1 player out of the event, world No. 2 Ernie Els will be the favorite to defend his title.

"While we are disappointed with Tiger's decision to withdraw from the 2003 Dubai Desert Classic, we are delighted he has immediately confirmed his participation next year," said Mohamed Ali Alabbar, vice chairman of the tournament.

"Losing Tiger from this week's lineup will be disappointing to his many fans in this part of the world, but we reluctantly have to respect his decision not to compete."

Woods played the event two years ago and lost on the 72nd and final hole to Thomas Bjorn of Denmark.

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