Tiger Woods has been invited to consider Dubai his “second home” by the organisers of the Desert Classic – a tournament which now looks set to go ahead without the world number one in February.
Woods has one more appearance left on his contract with the European Tour event and, after staying away this year because of his knee surgery, there was a chance he would be back in two months’ time.
But that seems to have disappeared with his decision to take an indefinite break from golf to try to salvage his marriage after his admission of infidelity.
The Desert Classic is run by Golf in Dubai, whose chief executive officer is Mohammad Juma Bu Amim.
He sent this message to the scandal-hit American through the Middle East newspaper Gulf News: “We are with you in this difficult time and respect your request for family privacy.
“As and when you decide to return to the circuit, you can always count on us. We will be more than delighted to welcome you to Dubai.
“Consider Dubai your second home.”
He then added: “We would love to see him playing in our event, but at the same time we do realise his number one priority at this time is his family.
“Having the world’s greatest golfer in your field is something many tournament organisers dream of, so for us to be able to welcome him to Dubai for the fifth time in eight years was a major boost for golf in the Middle East, especially Dubai.”
Meanwhile, Bu Amim has promised the level of competition at the Desert Classic on February 2-7 will be “as high as ever”.
Woods won in 2006 after a play-off with Ernie Els and again last year when he shot a closing 65 and Els then went in the lake on the final hole.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy took his first professional title there this year and aged 19 was one of the Tour’s youngest-ever winners.