Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Stars turn out for Dubai Desert Classic's birthday

updated 5:49 PM EST, Tue January 28, 2014
Tiger Woods tees off at the eighth as the Dubai Desert Classic celebrates its 25th year by inviting all former winners to compete in Tuesday's Champions Challenge -- a warm-up event to Thursday's main event. Tiger Woods tees off at the eighth as the Dubai Desert Classic celebrates its 25th year by inviting all former winners to compete in Tuesday's Champions Challenge -- a warm-up event to Thursday's main event.
HIDE CAPTION
Classic Dubai
Desert Vision
Illustrious list
Proud Representative
Flowing Fairway
Happy Couples
Set Sail for Success?
Lane Man
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some of golf's biggest names celebrate the 25th birthday of the Dubai Desert Classic
  • Woods, Els, Couples and Olazabal among those playing an invitational tournament Tuesday
  • Woods in relaxed mood despite poor start to the season at Torrey Pines

(CNN) -- The year 1989 launched the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament and the baseball film 'Field of Dreams' but the latter's famous line about how building a sports field in an unlikely setting would draw in major players can certainly apply to both.

In fact, there are few better examples than what is today the Emirates Golf Club.

Twenty-five years ago, the course was surrounded by acres of barren desert -- with barely a skyscraper to be seen in what was little more than a sleepy United Arab Emirates trading post.

Nonetheless, the rulers of Dubai had the finances and inclination to back their extraordinary vision for what is reality today.

They also had the verbal skills to persuade European PGA Tour organizers to stage an event far from their traditional home -- and in Asia for the first time.

The results have been spectacular.

RidicuList: Worker falls through roof
Emirates CEO: We'll be on all continents
Tiger Woods tonight on Unguarded
Rio's Olympic golf course
A new generation of golfing stars emerge

On Tuesday, the roll call of champions that turned out to celebrate the Dubai Desert Classic's 25th birthday included some of the greatest names in the sport: Tiger Woods, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ernie Els, Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie among others.

Mark James, the first man to win a tournament originally called the Karl Litten Desert Classic, was also in attendance.

The only one of the 21 former winners to miss the anniversary was Seve Ballesteros, who died three years ago, but the legendary Spaniard was represented by son Javier.

The 23-year-old law student, who made his debut on the Challenge Tour last April, went round in a respectable two-over par.

Read: Prime time running out for Tiger

Yet most eyes were, as usual, on Woods, especially after the world No. 1's disastrous seven-over round at the weekend at Torrey Pines, a course where he has recorded eight victories.

Woods finished in a tie for eighth position, paying the penalty for a double bogey after finding water on the 18th, but he seemed wholly untroubled by his poor start to the season as he played alongside Fred Couples and Stephen Gallacher, who won last year's Desert Classic.

"Playing with Fred is always a blast," Woods told the Dubai Desert Classic's official website. "I have known him for so long and he is almost like a big brother to me."

The 14-time major winner first played in Dubai in 2001, when his reported appearance fee of $3 million generated plenty of global headlines.

He has gone on to win the tournament twice, with his last victory coming in 2008 -- the same year as his last major triumph.

Tuesday's event was won by Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain, who share the Champions Challenge trophy after both finished six-under par.

"It's a great place for me, it's always good fun to be back and celebrating the 25th anniversary this year is also very special," said world No. 3 Stenson, who lived in Dubai for nearly a decade.

"There's not many tournaments going on for that many years and we had a great roll of champions here so it's been a good event."

Yet the real contest will take place on Thursday, with a strong field featuring Woods, Stenson and Rory McIlroy among others.

There will also be a special place for Barry Lane, the 53-year-old Englishman who is the only player to have contested every single edition of the tournament.

Having finished sixth in the inaugural event, he has witnessed at first hand the remarkable transformation of Dubai from empty space to thriving international metropolis -- a genuine field of dreams.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:47 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
If golf has a reputation for being a bit stuffy, then the Bryan brothers and their trick shots are a much-needed blast of fresh air.
updated 8:18 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Not many people make the leap from teenage market trader to golf pro and fashion entrepreneur, but that's just what Ian Poulter has done.
updated 6:29 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
"Sleep, as far as mental and physical recovery goes, has never been more important ..." says sport sleep coach Nick Littlehales.
updated 5:24 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Joe Miller is devouring his second steak of the day and the clock has barely nudged 2pm. You need lots of fuel to smash a drive 474 yards.
updated 10:49 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
There have been many dark days for Oliver Wilson, but golf's unluckiest loser is finally riding an upward swing of his career roller coaster.
updated 12:48 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
They dress like it's the 1930s and they swing antique equipment that eschews cutting-edge technology -- this is hickory golf.
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Phil Mickelson of the United States talks during a press conference after the United States were defeated by Europe after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland.
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
ADVERTISEMENT