Golden oldie Watson to play in next month's Dubai Classic

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By Tony Jimenez

LONDON (Reuters) - Veteran American Tom Watson, who went agonisingly close to winning last year's British Open, will compete in the Dubai Desert Classic next month.

"I am anxious to visit Dubai since I have heard so many good things about it," the 60-year-old said in a news release. "I am looking forward to playing in a city that seems to be making good progress as a golfing destination.

"The tournament has attracted some of the best golfers in the world and the winners list is quite impressive. I would be very proud and pleased to be able to add my name to that list."

Among the previous winners of the European Tour event in Dubai are Tiger Woods (2008 and 2006), Ernie Els (2005, 2002 and 1994), Mark O'Meara (2004), Jose Maria Olazabal (1998) and Seve Ballesteros (1992).

Watson almost claimed his sixth British Open victory in July when he was beaten in a playoff by compatriot Stewart Cink at Turnberry.

The Dubai Desert Classic, won last year by Britain's Rory McIlroy, starts on February 4.

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)