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Dubai Desert Classic
Emirates Golf Club
United Arab Emirates
26th February - 1st March 1998

Par 72 Prize Money 770,000

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Olazabal shoots 68 to win by three-shots

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 1st March 1998 - Fighting off the flu and a cough amid a swirling sandstorm, Jose Maria Olazabal rallied today to win the 770,000 Dubai Desert Classic by three strokes.

The Spaniard, who made a comeback in Dubai last year after a serious foot injury, began the day three strokes behind leader Robert Karlsson of Sweden. He closed with a 4-under-par 68 for a total of 19-under 269.

"It's absolutely fantastic," Olazabal said. "I'm shocked because of what I have done. I felt bad, really bad, and the first two days were obviously the worst. Every single muscle ached.

"I haven't been able to eat any solids since Wednesday and survived on yogurts, fruit juices and tea."

Olazabal, rating this victory at Emirates Golf Club his best in four years, had considered pulling out Friday. He earned a first prize of 130,000

Olazabal faded on the back nine after staying in front for the early part of the final round. But he clinched his victory in style, with an eagle on the 13th hole and birdies on the 17th and 18th.

Australia's Stephen Allan also made a late charge to move from six shots off the lead to take second with a 68-272.

Karlsson, who led from the start, shot a 75 to share third at 273 with South Africa's Ernie Els, who had a 72.

"I simply didn't play well enough and I didn't give myself any chances," Karlsson said. "The slightest chances I did have, I didn't take. I'm disappointed I didn't keep it up all the way."

The desert winds that whipped up a sandstorm made putting difficult in the morning and early afternoon, causing Greg Norman of Australia, Ignacio Garrido of Spain and Ian Woosnam of Wales to fall behind with a string of bogeys.

Garrido, in second place since the first round, had six bogeys in his last round. Woosnam, who celebrates his 40th birthday on Monday, was fifth at 73-275. Norman shared sixth position with Garrido and Lee Westwood.