Ernie Els looking forward to facing Tiger Woods
Holder Ernie Els is relishing the prospect of taking on world number one Tiger Woods when the Dubai Desert Classic starts on Thursday.
Els said Woods and world number three Retief Goosen would pose the biggest threats to his bid to win the European Tour event for a record fourth time.
"I am looking forward to the challenge (with Woods)," South African Els told reporters after visiting a course he designed at Dubai Sports City.
"Tiger is looking good after his victory in the United States, isn't he?
"But you know I have won here before and I like the course. I have a good karma with the place and feel comfortable here."
World number five Els, who also won here in 1994 and 2002, goes into the tournament at the Emirates Golf Club on the back of a tie for 13th in last week's Qatar Masters where he equalled Bernhard Langer's tour record of surviving 69 consecutive cuts.
Buoyed by Sunday's playoff victory in the Buick Invitational, Woods will be looking for his maiden success in Dubai after two near misses.
Woods found the water on the 72nd hole on his first appearance in 2001 when he finished tied for second behind Denmark's Thomas Bjorn.
The 30-year-old Woods also tied for fifth in 2004 when his close friend and fellow American Mark O'Meara took the title.
"I always enjoy visiting Dubai," said Woods. "The level of competition is always extremely high so I know I will have to play my best golf if I'm going to win."
The world number one marked his first tournament appearance of the year by winning in San Diego on Sunday.
Woods parred the second playoff hole to edge out Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain.
Australia's Robert Green had dropped out at the first playoff hole after running up a bogey six.
Goosen will be making his eighth visit to Dubai.
He was runner-up to fellow South African Wayne Westner in 1993.
February 1, 2006