Bjorn Beats Woods To Win Dubai Golf

Sunday, March 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Tiger Woods missed a chance for his first victory of the season when he double-bogeyed the final hole to give Thomas Bjorn the title in the Dubai Desert Classic Sunday.

Woods was even with Bjorn as they went to the 547-yard par-5 18th, but had trouble off the tee and put his third shot in the water in front of the green.

Bjorn parred the hole to finish with a 3-under 69 for a 22-under total of 266. Woods finished with an even par-72 for a 20-under 268 and a second-place tie with Padraig Harrington of Ireland (69).

Mathias Gronberg was four back after a 4-under 68, tied with Ian Woosnam, who had a 69.

Woods got into trouble on 18 when his tee shot went right and landed behind some trees and low-lying brush. He chipped out with an 8-iron through the branches and out across the fairway into deep rough. Trying to reach the green from 150 yards with a 9-iron, Woods tried to keep the ball from flying long and instead struck it short, landing in the water by inches.

It was only the fourth time Woods has failed to win when leading going into the final round.

``I had the opportunity today but I just made a couple of mistakes that cost me,'' Woods said. ``Thomas played solid all day and I didn't really get comfortable as I needed to feel on the final day with my golf swing and putting stroke.

``From the rough I actually hit a pretty good shot but I was protecting against the flier. But I didn't get the flier. Hats off to Thomas, he played well all week and he deserves the title.''

Woods is now 0-6 this season, although this event gave him his first top-three finish.

Woods last won on the U.S. Tour in September in the Canadian Open. He since has won three times in non-Tour events in Hawaii, Thailand and Argentina.

Woods, who led after every round and played all four days with Bjorn, earned about $2 million in appearance money in this commercial center on the Persian Gulf.

Bjorn got $250,000 for the victory. Woods got about half that much for the second-place tie.

``Well, we had gone head to head all week and I knew if I stuck my head down I had a chance,'' Bjorn said. ``But you never expect him to make a mistake like that up on the last hole.

``This is probably the best experience of my life. Playing with him (Woods) for four days and going head to head with him has just been great.''

Bjorn was embarrassed playing with Woods in the third round of last year's U.S. Open, where Woods shot an even-par 71 into hard winds and greens, and Bjorn played poorly and finished with an 82.

Woods lost the lead briefly around the ninth hole on Sunday — and not to Bjorn.

Playing in the twosome in front of him, Harrington birdied the hole to go 20-under. But Woods dropped a 12-footer to draw even.

Woods, who struggled with his putter and short game after two rounds of 64 and a 68 Saturday, birdied two of the next four holes to go 22-under as Harrington faded.

Bjorn, who had slipped to 18-under at the turn after trailing Woods by one, eagled the 10th with a 20-foot putt and birdied the 13th to reach 21-under.

Woods missed birdie chances on 14, 15 and 17. Bjorn finally cashed in on 17, dropping an 8-foot putt to draw even, with Woods missing his birdie chance from 10 feet.

On the 18th, Bjorn reached the back of the green in two and then took three putts to get down.