Tiger Woods is Coming 2001
Tiger Woods was at his peak in 2001. He was the fifth player in history, and youngest ever, to complete the Grand Slam after winning the British Open by eight strokes at 19-under 269, the lowest score ever at St. Andrews. Tiger defeated Bob May in a three-hole playoff at Valhalla in Louisville to win his second consecutive PGA Championship and third consecutive major title, joining Ben Hogan (1953) as the only two players to win three majors in one season.
Now, in 2001, Tiger was coming to Dubai to compete in the Dubai Desert Classic for the first time. It was a sporting and PR coup for Dubai
Dubai became excited at the prospect of Tiger Woods' visit. Golfers and non Golfers alike knew of Tiger Woods sudden rise to fame and his remarkable golfing talent. Expectations were high. Tiger Woods was invincible. He was coming to win the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic!
Tiger Woods and Thomas Bjorn played together for all four days of the competition. On the final day, I had the privilege of being the “mobile scorer” for Tiger Woods and Thomas Bjorn for their final round. It was Tiger Woods’ first appearance in Dubai so there was a lot of excitement and expectation. I followed them around the Majlis Course, at a discrete distance, in a golf cart fitted with a scoreboard. After each hole, I put up their scores on my scoreboard using a stack of plastic numbers. In between, I had a ringside seat to watch these two great Golfers. Woods and Bjorn were neck and neck – Woods simply could not get away from Bjorn. On the 16th, Woods was one stroke up on Bjorn but on the 17th, Tiger Woods missed a putt and Bjorn drew level – they were both on minus 22. Then I discovered there were not enough plastic 2s to put up the score. I stopped by the 17th Green while I located more 2s. I missed seeing Tiger Woods drive into the trees on the right of the 18th Fairway. I arrived on the 18th just in time to see Tiger Woods play out of the trees and into the rough. Woods was still behind Bjorn so had to play again. Woods caught the long grass and skied his ball into the lake in front of the 18th Green. Bjorn calmly played a 5 wood onto the 18th Green. Two putts later Thomas Bjorn won the 2001 Desert Classic. Tiger Woods was disconsolate, left the course in a hurry and didn’t reappear for the planned charity putting competition with Sheikh Mohammed.
Tiger Woods had an early start for his practice round.
Tiger Woods and Thomas Bjorn were randomly drawn to play together on the first day. Their subsequent scores meant they played together for all four rounds of the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic
Tiger Woods struggled from time to time and was unable to get away from Thomas Bjorn
Tiger Woods found himself up against a determined and dogged opponent in Thomas Bjorn
Going into the 17th Hole on the final round, Tiger Woods was in front by one stroke but then missed his putt. Thomas Bjorn and Tiger Woods were now level with each on -22 going into the 18th and final Hole.
Tiger Woods made the first of successive bad shots when his drive ended in the trees to the right of the fairway. Tiger Woods played his ball back onto the fairway but into the fairway rough.
Tiger Woods skied his shot from the rough with his ball landing in the water hazard. He dropped a ball behind the water hazard and played onto the 18th Green. Thomas Bjorn had already put 5 wood onto the green so Tiger Woods was now 3 strokes behind and out of contention.
Thomas Bjorn consoles Tiger Woods on 18th Green at Emirates Golf Club after winning the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic.
Thomas Bjorn - Winner 2001 Dubai Desert Classic
Sheikh Mohammed greets Tiger Woods at the presentation
Tiger Woods was clearly upset at losing his first competition in Dubai. He subsequently declined to appear with Sheikh Mohammed in a Charity Putting Competition.
5 years later, Tiger Woods won the 2006 Dubai Desert Classic