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Tiger pulls out of Dubai

  |   March 2, 2003 at 2:14 PM
CARLSBAD, Calif., March 2 (UPI) -- The looming probability of war in Iraq has prompted Tiger Woods to pull out of the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic.

The world's top golfer on Sunday confirmed what had been widely expected when he announced he would remain in the United States rather than travel to the Middle East for the tournament that starts in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

"I have reluctantly decided to postpone my appearance until next year," Woods, who is participating in the Match Play Championship said in a statement. "The organizers offered tremendous support and security for this proposed trip. However, for the foreseeable future, I felt it would be most prudent to avoid international travel."

Woods, who has received an appearance fee believed to be in the vicinity of $2 million, announced he would play next year in an effort to soften the blow to tournament organizers.

"Losing Tiger will be disappointing to his many fans in this part of the world, but we reluctantly have to respect his decision," tournament vice chairman Mohamed Ali Alabbar said.

Several other high-profile players also have pulled out of Dubai, including Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and rising Australian star Adam Scott.

However, world No. 2 Ernie Els of South Africa still plans to play, along with half of last year's winning European Ryder Cup team.

Montgomerie instead will play this week's Ford Championship in Miami, while Scott will play next week's Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens rather than defend his title at the European Tour's Qatar Masters.

Woods is expected to take two weeks off before competing at the Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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