Tiger roars back to win Dubai Classic

Dubai, February 3:

Tiger Woods birdied his last two holes Sunday to rally from a four-shot deficit and win the Dubai Desert Classic, starting his season with two victories that looked nothing alike.

A week after winning the Buick Invitational by eight shots, Woods had to birdie five of his last seven holes for a 7-under 65, then wait to see if Ernie Els could catch him. Els needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to force a playoff, but a wayward tee shot led to bogey.

“To go 2-for-2, it’s a pretty good start, isn’t it?” said Woods, who hit nine birdies in the final round — including six on the back nine. Woods finished at 14-under 274 and won by one shot over Martin Kaymer of Germany, who finished birdie-birdie-eagle for a 66. “I felt good today with my stroke, and I feel like I rolled the ball well,” Woods said.

Woods now has won his last four official tournaments, and six of his last seven dating to the Bridgestone Invitational in early August. This is the third time in his career he has started a season with consecutive victories.

For Els, it was a devastating blow. The South African is in the middle of a three-year plan to become No 1 in the world, and this looked like the perfect occasion to make a statement. Instead, Els closed with a pedestrian 71 and wound up tied for third at 12-under 276 with Louis Oosthuizen.

Kaymer, the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship winner who was tied with Woods at a 7-under 209 on Friday, hit five birdies and one bogey in his round.