Tiger Woods has won more than $2 million the last three weeks, an amount he could receive just by showing up at the Dubai Desert Classic. Instead, the world's No. 1 golfer is playing it safe. He's staying home.
"It's just not a safe environment over there right now," Woods said Sunday after his victory over David Toms in the Match Play Championship. "I don't think it would be wise for me to over there at this particular time."
Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates, about 900 miles from Iraq.
Some players already have withdrawn from the popular European tour event because of concerns about war breaking out. One of them, Colin Montgomerie, has decided instead to play in Miami next week on the PGA Tour.
Among those playing are Ernie Els, the No. 2 player in the world. Els is the defending champion at Dubai, and will get an appearance fee said to be nearly $300,000.
Also going is Woods' best friend on tour, Mark O'Meara, who will get a little more than $200,000 to play.
It was O'Meara who helped persuade Woods to play in Dubai in 2001, when Woods made double bogey on the 72nd hole and lost to Thomas Bjorn.
"I had a great time the last time I went two years ago," Woods said. "If it's safe next year, I'll go, because I wanted to go back."
Woods said he would not play the Ford Championship at Doral in Miami out of respect to tournament officials in Dubai.
"Losing Tiger from this week's lineup will be disappointing to his many fans in this part of the world, but we reluctantly have to respect his decision not to compete," said Mohamed Ali Alabbar, vice chairman of the tournament.
Woods declined to speculate about his other overseas plans, such as the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany in May, which he has won three times.
Deutsche Bank also will sponsor a PGA Tour event in Boston, with the proceeds benefiting the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Woods didn't have a problem with going to England for the British Open in July.
"If I can walk, if I can play golf, I'll be there," he said.
Woods said his high profile presented him with a different set of circumstances than other top players, particularly in a region so close to Iraq.
"You have to be honest about it," he said.
One player Woods' decision affects is O'Meara, who usually travels on what he calls "TWA" - Tiger Woods Airline, referring to his private jet.
"He's not too happy about that," Woods said.
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