Dubious Tiger to Skip Dubai

Will he? Won't he?

Tiger won't.

After three weeks of speculation, Tiger Woods confirmed Sunday that he will not play in next week's Dubai Desert Classic, deciding that it's not safe to travel outside the country.

"It's just not a safe environment over there right now," he said.

"Going overseas in this particular year, right now, especially in that part of the world, is a little tough for me to go," Woods said. "If it's a little bit more safe than it is now, I'd go, but it's not. It's a reality question and you've got to be realistic with your answer too."

Woods said he had been in contact with officials from the State Department, who advised him against playing.

The $1.8-million tournament in the United Arab Emirates also lost Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo, who withdrew last week. However, defending champion Ernie Els reaffirmed his intention to play. Also, Woods' friend, Mark O'Meara, is committed to play at Dubai.

Woods apparently will relinquish his standard appearance fee of $2.5 million, which he regularly donates to his Tiger Woods Foundation. Woods says he intends to play the tournament in 2004.

Woods' next tournament would be the $4.5-million Bay Hill Invitational, March 20-23 in Orlando, where Els is also entered. It would be the first full-field, stroke-play tournament to include both Woods and Els since Els replaced Phil Mickelson as the No. 2-ranked player in the world behind Woods.

-- Thomas Bonk

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