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Two tie in Dubai Champions Challenge

(Photo: Getty Images)
Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Henrik Stenson shared the spoils at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic Champions Challenge after six under par rounds of 66 at Emirates GC saw them finish two clear of the chasing pack.

The 21 former winners "“ with the great Seve Ballesteros represented by his son, Javier "“ of the Dubai Desert Classic were reunited for the special event to celebrate the tournament's 25th anniversary, with 2013 Race to Dubai Champion Stenson setting the clubhouse target in the company of 2001 champion Thomas Björn, and the first man to get his hands on the trophy back in 1989, Mark James.

Six birdies and not a single dropped shot was the ideal start to Stenson's week, at a tournament that holds a special place in the 2007 Champion's heart.

"I made Dubai my home for close to ten years," said the Swede. "It's a great place for me, this, and it's always good fun to be back, and celebrating the 25th anniversary this year is also very special.

"There's not many tournaments going on for that many years and we have a great roll of champions here so it's been a good event."

In the following group the 2012 winner, Cabrera-Bello, also showed his pedigree around the Majilis Course to shoot a six under par score of his own, thanks to seven birdies and just the one dropped shot.

"Myself and the other Spanish players all feel very comfortable here," said the two time European Tour winner. "We are all from Spain and obviously the weather is very warm over there. We all enjoy playing in short sleeves.

"Everyone likes this one, especially as Seve and Ollie and Miguel and Alvaro and myself have won. It's a very good atmosphere and we all have good stories going around here so it's a positive surrounding for us.

"This year's Desert Swing has been unbelievable with Pablo winning in Abu Dhabi and Sergio last week. Myself and some of the other Spanish guys are playing good too, so hopefully we can make it a Spanish hat trick."

Rory McIlroy finished runner up alongside Alvaro Quiros after the pair shot rounds of four under. Defending champion Stephen Gallacher bogeyed the par five 18th to finish fifth on three under, having played in the final match alongside World Number One Tiger Woods, who double bogeyed the last for a one under par score.

Ballesteros, meanwhile, said that he was very proud to be at the event in place of his father, and playing alongside Miguel Angel Jiménez and José María Olazábal, he carded a two over par round of 74.

The 25th edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic gets under way from Thursday morning.

Leading Scores:

66 H Stenson (Swe); R Cabrera-Bello (Esp);
68 R Mcilroy (Nir); A Quiros (Esp) 68 68;
69 S Gallacher (Sco) 69 69;
70 F Couples (Usa); R-J Derksen (Ned);
71 T Woods (Usa); T Björn (Den);
72 M O'Meara (Usa); D Howell (Eng); J Coceres (Arg); Jm Olazábal (Esp); Ma Jiménez (Esp); 73 M James (Eng); R Green (Aus);

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